Jackie Wilson Asheeke

Slap me for being an eternal optimist. In Namibia, “The storm is passin’ over, alleluia…” (An old Negro Spiritual). In these times, I have no choice but to be hopeful.

President Hage Geingob and First Lady Monica Geingos are in State House and doing their thing. And yes…I give props to the First Lady. All too often ignorant sexism prevents people from understanding that the wives of men with heavy responsibilities are “all in” whether they want to be or not.

I pray that something innovative and tangible is done to help Namibia – we need many heroes to step up.

Can those who are spending time bitching and moaning these days ease up a bit? Instead, prepare for the oncoming economic tidal wave that will likely hit us very soon. We all need to put our houses in order, particularly because when paychecks stop coming and supplies begin to dry up, the pressure will hit some homes very hard.

Forget about blaming Geingob alone for the Namibian mess. He dropped the baton for sure, but the seeds of the status quo were planted long ago. This country is damaged by the disastrous miseducation and psychological black inferiority complexes instilled during generations of colonialism and apartheid. Thirty years on, this ugliness still floats around. Now, the burden is made heavier by Coronavirus, recession, bloated civil service salary bill, the falling Rand, the increased demand for laboratory diamonds, spiraling crime, drugs/alcohol abuse, crippling poverty, the temporary collapse of hunting and tourism and other erstwhile profitable industries, devastating youth unemployment, youth impatience and fury, aging and disconnected leaders, and deep-rooted corruption. These things yank the country four steps back for every half step forward.

The first sign that I looked at for inspiration as we face a tough 2020, let me down. Why in heaven’s name was there a public celebration at State House during a global health pandemic? I imagine Nero fiddling while Rome burns or Marie Antoinette saying, “Let them eat cake” while the mob marched to Versailles or Batista blithely celebrating the New Year while Castro was on his way into Havana.

The elite and decision-makers sat there close together like well-dressed sardines in chairs showing that they had no understanding whatsoever of Covid-19 and how it spreads. The photos of laughing leaders bumping elbows and ankles are alarming. In my view, they were gleefully playing catch with a loaded gun.

That was a golden moment to show the nation that those in charge are serious about changing things in Namibia and handling this virus (and all other pending problems) with seriousness, vigour and intelligence. Instead, our leaders messed up. On March 21st, there should have been the televised image of the President, the Chief Justice, the First Lady holding a bible and that’s it.

The reports published have mentioned that the disease may remain alive on surfaces for up to three days and droplets from sneezing or coughing could remain in the air for minutes or several hours. How does bumping elbows in a crowded room overcome that?

Worse, almost everyone in that room was in the old age group most susceptible to the virus. Can you imagine what turmoil would happen if even half of the people in that room (our leaders!) fell ill? Was the inaugural fête at State House worth that irresponsible risk? We all need to be smart in these trying days; leaders need to be smarter.

Heroes are normal people who do extraordinary things in abnormal times. These are indeed abnormal days. As an optimist, I have no choice but to be hopeful that we have hidden heroes somewhere across this nation who will leap into action, reveal their super power and help the country find its way.