Jackie Wilson Asheeke
Namibia needs to wake up. No one will help us, but us. The country, communities and families are under unprecedented pressure. Looking to donor countries, the government, the president, a political party or a church to ‘solve’ individual problems is a waste of time. The new normal means increased self-sufficiency.
It is time for Namibians to do more for themselves. The government is broke. Many who are in power are insecure in their positions. Businesses are reeling from the pandemic, but also three years of drought and economic depression before the virus hit. Families are uncertain about household income and health issues. Churches are oddly quiet not offering hands-on assistance, or taking the lead in lifting the people’s morale. We all must look at what little we have left and make plans that rely on what we can provide.
Reading a protest sign in a photo from demonstration by an employee at a fishing company at the coast is quite telling. She begs President Geingob to save her job. This shows how unrealistic some people can be. A president is not responsible to an individual citizen to save their particular job. A president enacts policies that affect the economic climate. Those policies have caused the dire situation in the fishing industry. It is a heavy mantle; there will always be collateral damage as the majority must be addressed, not individuals.
People must develop their own ideas and exploit them. The informal economy can provide a second income stream when the primary income stream is cut or under threat.
Family members must stop living out of the pockets of other family members. Family ‘providers’ must learn to offer their loved ones a job doing WORK around the house. Some people must be pushed into being self-sufficient.
Family members seeking self-sufficiency as a unit, must pool resources for a joint family survival plan. All who can work, must go out and find something that legally earns income. Set goals and targets and be bullish on achievement.
Get seeds and start planting vegetables in your gardens. What can you bake and sell from your kitchen? Do hair, or sew/repair clothes. Invest in a deep freezer. Join together with others and buy an animals for meat every quarter.
Wash people’s cars at their homes; do pet care tasks; or go shop (for a fee) for those tired of the sign-in/mask requirements at every store. Rent out a bedroom in your house.
Start baking your own bread. Stop using credit cards. Use a debit card or cash. If there is no cash, then you cannot have it. Close off all overdrafts, revolving credit lines and other bank handouts. You cannot make independent decisions if your salary ends up with the bank or with micro-lenders for never-ending debts.
If you are unemployed and sitting around your living space waiting for someone to give you a job – you are not being self-sufficient. No one owes you a job or anything else.
Start selling assets that aren’t in use. Hold a garage sale or go on line and sell those things of value that are gathering dust. Use the revenues to pay off your credit card debt or car loan.
I cheer the ladies selling fat cakes or traditional beverages or wood by the side of the road or selling commodities they buy at China town. Government must lend support to those trying to help themselves. Let the police protect these women from marauding gangs of boys and men who steal their money and terrorize them.
Achieving self-sufficiency is hard; but it is a solid path to survival in tough times. Being independent (particularly for women) will put you in the path of criticism. Those who are resigned to being dependent abhor people who are self-sufficient. Misery loves company.
Sometimes being self-sufficient can be lonely in the short term. Find hobbies and small joys to make yourself smile.
Namibians must stop looking to employers to ‘take care of them’ and they must learn to do for themselves. Your employer is not your parent. The employer/staff relationship is a business deal. Work hard; over-perform and increase your possible job security.
Listen to the song “God Bless the Child” sung by Billie Holiday.
“Them that’s got shall get
Them that’s not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own;
Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that’s got his own.