Free we are, but the revolution is far from over

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On Monday morning the Omurari Wondjivisiro Ombaranga, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC)’s Otjiherero language service station, chose in a presentation by senior presenter, Tjizo Tjaveondja, to play some songs by Peter Tosh.

It is not known whether this was by design, incidental or accidental in the week that Namibia celebrates her 26th Independence anniversary.

Whatever the motive of the presenter, surely the music spoke to the occasion; revolutionary songs, songs that speak variously about revolutions the world over, including Africa.

Thus the songs could not have been more relevant in this week that we celebrate 26 years of the success of our revolution, because March 21 heralded only the beginning of the Namibian revolution.

What we have seen, starting with our ancestors’ resistance against German colonialism, later culminating in the struggle for Independence, were but preparations for the national revolution; the revolution we are currently seized with – which is far from concluded.

Call it what you may. Our founding president coined it as “economic emancipation”.
Our incumbent president has lately baptised it “Harambee”, but it is one and the same thing – a revolution!

As the minister for presidential affairs recently pointed out in his speech in the National Assembly, there is reason to celebrate, as the world seems to take note of some of these achievements.

Notable among these is freedom of expression, including freedom of the media. In this respect Namibia has for several consecutive years led the African pack as per the accolade of the international media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who – true to his democratic credentials – stepped down to pave the way for son of the soil, Dr Hage Geingob, received the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

The last time this prize was awarded was in 2011 when it went to former president of the Cape Verde Pedro Pires.
This means in the intervening years there was no worthy winner – only for President Pohamba to break the deadlock.
Surely this is an achievement worth celebrating, not only for former president personally, but indeed the whole country has reason to to be proud.

Similarly Namibia has been hailed internationally as one of the countries in Africa whose people have a high level of tolerance. This time around the microscope falls on the people themselves who thus have every reason to celebrate.

While these are by no means the only achievements of the country, the challenges are as numerous as the achievements.
It is especially on the challenges that the country and her people need to reflect, while simultaneously celebrating our achievements and milestones. Needless to say, poverty is one such challenge, as President Geingob clearly signaled in his inaugural speech last March.

A year down the line – as the country looks back on 26 years on the achievements and milestones – we must look on the flipside of these achievements. What comes to mind in terms is the level and standard of living of the ordinary person in the street. In this regard the record of the country has as yet to speak in tongues.

Hence, the onslaught on poverty – as declared by President Geingob.
But can what has been mapped out thus far really deliver in terms of poverty eradication, let alone alleviation? Can the institutions and policies that we are and have been formulating be the remedy to eradicating and alleviating poverty?

A year into Dr Geingob’s reign and as we celebrate 26 years of freedom, independence and sovereignty, the pertinent question is whether this epoch has seen the desired level of prosperity and socio-economic progress?

Or in the least have we over the years shown the necessary resolve and drive towards socio-economic progress? Are we on the right track in terms of giving effect to President Geingob’s war on poverty?

In reflecting on this, one cannot and should not lose sight of Vision 2030, which no doubt was meant to be a vehicle towards improved prosperity. But the question is whether this vision still exists. If so, to what extent? What has been done over these years to ensure the country remains on track?

One litmus test of the good governance accolade that the country has earned over the years – testimony thereof being the Mo Ibrahim Leadership Award to former president Pohamba – is to sustain the achievements and progress we have made.

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