In Namibia the coexistence between human beings and wild animals is as old as when in the eyes of so-called civilised humans, the Africans were savages, if worse not animals.
It is as old as when such co-existence could, to borrow from the Darwinian theory, aptly be described as the survival of the fittest without necessarily any threat to such existence, and/or threat to the balance of existence among the various species occupying common habitats, this being homo sapiens, on the one hand and the Animalia on the other. With the dawn of independence, however, this balance despite standing the test of time for centuries during the existentialism of nature, and especially the coexistence of homo sapiens and Animalia, definitely has changed dramatically, by the design of those presumably more concerned with maintaining such balance, presumably for the sake of the posterity of nature.
But for homo sapiens, who all along has been in peaceful and harmonious, coexistence with Animalia, of course permitting the need for survival of either, the balance of forces seems to have been changed reversely, not for the continuation of nature and its naturalness but against such, disturbing the natural balance between the two foremost forces. The disturbance of this balance has been what largely seems to have been from the wilderness that has for sometime since independence been emanating and reverberating from some of the regions heavily populated by Animalia, but which somehow seems to have been falling on deaf ears.
The term cannot be more self-explanatory. Indeed conflict rather than coexistence is what has been happening and transpiring between inhabitants of most of the areas adjacent to conservation areas, and the animals in the conservancies, which no longer seem confined to the conservancies but freely roaming these areas. Not harmlessly but homo sapiens, who in the first place is supposed to be the primordial of the said areas, has lately increasingly been threatened by these animals while in reciprocate they have been expected to live with such animals at peace, if not fathoming the risk of such and/or subduing self to being preys to such predators, without lifting a finger to secure their own lives and safety.
Lately, in the Kunene Region, an inhabitant had a close encounter with a lion, which as a result, luckily, he was only hospitalised. Another lost his animal to a lion. But these two are only but a drop in the ocean of incidences of human and wildlife conflict in the said region, which have been becoming more a norm than an exception. Following these incidents lately, the voices from the inhabitants in the region, chorused even by eminent leaders in the region, political, traditional and civic, including the governor, have been vociferous as they have been unambiguous.
It is any wonder if these groundswell cries have been falling on deaf ears. Thus giving the inhabitants of the Kunene Region the perception that the life of humans has now become subservient to those of wild animals, if not altogether insignificant. That is in the eyes of the government, and conservationists, some of them natives of the region who should be in a more vantage position to understand the plight of their fellows better, being circumstances in which they have been born and bred and the cattle which are now prey to lions being the very ones they have fended for them to be what they are today.
The cries of the people of Kunene seemingly from the wilderness, and having fallen on deaf ears as they seem, are perhaps not enigmatic. Because in the first place and strangely they also have been missing from the news pages of the local media, with the notable exception in this regard among the news channels and media houses being only the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation’s (NBC) Omurari Wondjivisiro Ombaranga. This is perhaps a hard lesson among those who have been voicing themselves on this matter that Omurari cannot be the only and first and last channel when trying to reach the powers that be. This notwithstanding, the concerns of the inhabitants of Kunene remain valid and are crying for address. Because in them have been undertones and overtones of neglect based on tribal affiliation and regionalism, such also based on tribal association. Besides, the groundswell perception among the Kunene inhabitants that their lives no longer matter compared to the lives of wild animals. One with such strong view is none other than Ngaripurue Heuva, who last month escaped a lion attack. The best that the authorities could do was to dump him at a hospital to fend for self. Apparently all the authorities could have done is compensate his family had he been killed. Since, he has never heard anything from them, let alone to know how he was doing in hospital.
Testimony to this narrative is another human life lost in the Omatjete communal area in Daures Constituency earlier this year. Giving rise to the movement ‘No More Elephants’! If this does not speak volumes, what could?