More than a generation ago, brave Namibian men and women risked life and limb in an armed struggle against foreign oppressors who denied the basic rights of the majority. The white minorities then enjoyed unfettered rights and the black majority endured great hardship.
On March 21, 1990 there was jubilation throughout the country. The masses of town and countryside were celebrating the birth of Namibia’s nationhood, independence and freedom.
The reasons for celebration were countless. Namibia was celebrating the heroics of its military and diplomatic forces, who offered fierce resistance to foreign oppression.
They were celebrating the bravery of those whose blood watered our freedom – the heroes and heroines who died fighting to liberate their motherland.
They were celebrating the formation of a new democratic government. They were celebrating national reconciliation which Sam Nujoma – sworn in as president that day – declared.
They were celebrating the beautiful African story of how a nation can move from segregation to integration.
Celebrating our independence should never be seen from a parochial perspective of its supposed pomp and fanfare. Spending moderately to celebrate the day we unshackled ourselves from the chains of oppression does not warrant the hullaballoo witnessed in the country in recent weeks.
Simply put, you cannot make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Independence Day is not a day for excessive spending, but it is neither a day to bow our heads in self-pity.
March 21 is historical, not only in Namibia, but Africa too.
In 1963, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed with the objective of working towards the greater unity of the African continent, while at the same time ensuring that the remaining colonies on the African continent are assisted to achieve their freedom and independence.
Thus, the Pan-African dream gave birth to African liberation with the last country to attain independence from foreign rule in Africa being South Africa in 1994.
How then can we possibly lock ourselves in our homes on the instigation of people who clearly have personal scores to settle and are on a mission to humiliate the leaders of our country?
True, we have to go beyond ‘flag independence’ and start with practical solutions to the problems facing our country, but this doesn’t mean scrapping Independence Day celebrations off our calendar.
If anything, it is in fact in difficult times like these that we need to celebrate in unity our nationhood, reflect on the journey, on our victories and sacrifces, and inspire ourselves to regain our stardom.
Every generation – and we have many in Namibia – has to devote time to understanding how things got to where they are.
Festivities are not the most important aspect of Independence Day, as seems to be the perception of those who called for the boycotting of this year’s event at Rundu in the Kavango East Region.
Young people nevertheless turned up in vast numbers, because they were hungry not for food but for the messages and guidance of their leaders.
This enthusiasm was evident when young people had to be ordered off the rooftops of houses near the Rundu Stadium, as they sought to capture a glimpse of the proceedings.