MTC strongman Tim Ekandjo minced no words as he castigated the perpetrators of racism so prevalent within predominantly white-administered domestic sporting disciplines.
In his carefully crafted keynote address during the National Sports Commission (NSC) annual Sports Awards Ceremony at Windhoek Country Club on Friday, the articulate and youthful MTC strongman spoke strongly against the evils and repercussions of racism.
“There are so many pressing issues to talk about, from poor funding in sports, ‘zula to survive’ mentality of domestic sports, inadequate governance, or rather the lack of leadership, but I won’t talk about that tonight.
“I wish to speak about an issue very close to my heart, racism, sexism and tribalism. For those of you who are tired of hearing about racism, imagine how much more we are tired of constantly experiencing it. So, yes we will talk about it over and over again until we completely eradicate the perpetrators.”
Ekandjo said he was fully aware that his remarks might not be not be received well by those who believe racism doesn’t exist, but added that he was comforted by the fact that there is no easy walk to freedom.
“Many of us would have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires, which in this case is a free and prosperous Namibian house, in which we regard each other as equals, and most importantly as human beings.
“Tonight I speak in memory of fallen heroes, such as the late Jerobeam Dimo Hamaambo, John Otto Nakudhu Koshiwada, Moses Garoeb Dawid Meror, and many others who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of humanity.”
Ekandjo at one stage sarcastically remarked that “there is no such thing as racism in sports”.
“Yes, I agree with those who continue to sing that song, because they have never been subjected to racism. Racism in sports is just the tip of the iceberg, for there can be no racism in sports, if there is no racism in society.”
He was adamant that racism oppresses its victims, while it also binds the oppressors, who sear their conscience with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies: “They cannot face the truth of human equality, because it reveals the horrors of the injustices they commit.”
According to Ekandjo, people do not just give you freedom, or the privilege of your freedom, while they have enjoyed the privilege of your entrapment. He said society does not need their permission to be free in the country of one’s birth.
“Not so long ago we witnessed an alleged incident where a Namibian rugby player allegedly called a South African player a ‘black baboon’,” he recalled. The targeted victim, Patrick Mulamba, courageously fought back after this reported scandalous attack and got a red card for his retaliation.
“I salute Mulamba’s reaction”, Ekandjo said, “because that is exactly what our forefathers would have done: fight, fight and die fighting. In this case, Mulamba’s red card represented victory against the fight against racism. It is his perpetrator who should have gotten a red card.”
Ekandjo expressed shock and disbelief that to date nothing has happened to the accused rugby player, who apparently thinks not only that Mulamba is a black baboon, but – by extension – that all black people are baboons.
“Some local newspapers conveniently ignored the unfolding saga, as if it was nothing. Their sponsors did not withdraw their sponsorship. No authority in sports took any action. Instead, we asked for the very same perpetrators to explain themselves. We all shamelessly kept quiet and condoned what I describe as a shameless and cowardly act against humankind. We should all be terribly ashamed.”
Ekandjo said Namibia has witnessed a number of racist incidents this year alone and it would be amiss to keep quiet in the face of such abuse, or to allow the situation to continue as if it were a favourite national pastime.
“We must shame those who resort to racist behaviour. We must call them by name. We must ban them from societies and in sports we must give them red cards, instead of protecting them. Racist thoughts and actions say far more about the person they come from than the person they are directed to…”
“We must all take a stand against racism, tribalism and sexism, because these can only thrive if we allow it. We should all detest it, because it is barbaric, coming from barbaric people, whether they are black or white.
“Tonight we celebrate the achievements of excellent sportswomen and men. We celebrate their achievements and humanity, irrespective of colour, in the spirit of Namibianism. Sport is supposed to unite us, not divide us.”
Ekandjo concluded by saying racism is a refuge for the ignorant, as it seeks to divide and destroy. It is the enemy of freedom and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out: “We must, therefore, classify racism and tribalism as criminal, because racism is not an opinion – it is a serious offense, period.”