Windhoek-Renowned Kenyan lawyer and academic, Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, speaking in Windhoek yesterday, said Namibia – with her small population and abundant resources – should have 100 percent employment.
Lumumba, who gave two public lectures yesterday as part of New Era Publication Corporation Thought Leaders Series, said the country is endowed with enough resources whose exploitation should be to the benefit of all.
His lectures were held under the theme “African Leadership, Development and Sharing of National Resources”.
According to the latest Namibia unemployment rate data released this month, unemployment in the country increased to 34 percent in 2016 from 28.10 percent in 2014.
The unemployment rate averaged 27.29 percent from 1997 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 37.60 percent in 2008 and a record low of 19.50 percent in 1997.
“Namibia is one of the few African countries that should have 100 percent employment. She has the sun, the right population, the resources, there is no reason why she should not be like Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Qatar. But I am told that is work in progress,” Lumumba said.
Although statistics show that many countries in the region have fast growing economies, Africa still lags in all sectors, which negatively impacts the lives of its people.
He said African countries – Namibia included – has much natural resources and has always been attractive to the world due to such resources.
But he asked what did Africans do with the resources after they gained independence from colonisation.
“You are one of the last African countries to regain independence. What have we done with our independence and how have we used our natural and human resources? We must stop lamenting and ask ourselves what are we doing for our young men and women?”
He said Namibia has fish resources in the Atlantic Ocean and uranium among other riches but people are still poor.
“Look at this country, look at the fish that roam alongside Walvis Bay to which you have contributed nothing from the day of creation and they continue to re-produce without effort on your part. Look at the diamonds you have – we are not harnessing our resources. How is it that we produce geologists but we have Chinese come here and tell us how to deal with our uranium? We must reverse the situation if we are to realise our potential.”
He questioned why do African countries continue to produce graduates from top universities but who are unable to make a positive impact on their economies.
“Why do African countries produce engineers and architects but the Chinese are the ones building our national roads?
“We produce doctors but Indians are treating us. We produce agricultural graduates but the Israelis are teaching us dry land agriculture. It’s only for those who can’t afford it that send their students to the University of Namibia, otherwise one is proud when one says my student, son or daughter is at Harvard, Yale, Kent.”
He also questioned why medical tourism is on the rise, as African leaders seek medical attention abroad at the expense of their own medical facilities at home.
According to him, these uncomfortable questions need to be confronted because “we have been too nice to each for too long to avoid offending each other”.
Further, he said, Africans can’t feed themselves, as they can’t even produce enough maize.
He cited Zimbabwe which was once the breadbasket of southern Africa but which today has distinguished herself in a most negative way.
He also noted that literacy levels keep going down due to a lot of miseducation, which is a major problem among Africans.
Lumumba said books have been written with diluted history to brainwash Africans.
“We must interrogate the education that we offer our men and women. Many a time I read history books and see the books still tell us that some white man discovered Victoria Falls. And we believe that is what happened. Some books still tell us that Jan van Riebeeck discovered the Cape of Good Hope and we still believe that. Miseducation is part of the Africa problem. We should ask how are we going to re-educate ourselves.”