As dawn broke on the year 2024 hopes for a new beginning for the Namibian House in the year of expectations grew exponentially because it is also the year of elections.
The imagery of dawn breaking signifies the end of darkness and the arrival of light, which is commonly associated with new beginnings and opportunities.
At the break of dawn on Monday, roughly 150,000 members of the second generation of so-called ‘bornfrees’, while holding the hands of the hopeful parents, arrived at schools across Namibia with bright and wide eyes.
Every parent who spent hours in the sun waiting in long queues to ensure that their child would have a place in the school closest to his or her home did so with the unfaltering belief that Namibia would present an abundance of opportunities for their offspring.
As it is and always will be with the human race, some of the little children cried because they were overwhelmed by the sudden change in their lives, some stood with wide eyes, reluctant to leave the safety of the warm hand holding theirs, while others revelled in the prospect of hundreds of new friends and the opportunity to explore new horizons.
Since the last Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Namibia were held towards the end of 2019, Namibians like all other people living on the planet experienced harsh lockdowns, stringent government regulations and a slump in the economy that claimed a calamitous toll from thousands of households because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Initially, the national economy was slow to get out of the starting blocks after the pandemic was declared to be officially over. The economy did, however, receive a booster shot with new opportunities in the field of green hydrogen production and the discovery of large oil deposits along the Namibian coast.
On the eve of the New Year, President Hage Geingob said that Namibia has turned the tide and the Namibian House is in much better shape.
The President urged Namibians to look forward in their march towards shared prosperity to seize on the promise of better opportunities and to positively develop their expectations and ambitions. He also called on Namibians to work harder for their collective welfare which would eventually build a stronger Namibian House.
Namibians were urged to redouble their efforts to make Namibia a better country in order to seize the opportunities that are in line with their ambitions and expectations.
Before the 2019 elections and ever since the Namibian youth have been active in seeking parliamentary and Cabinet seats in the various party structures they feel best represents them.
The youth, through a variety of activists and organisers, have increasingly challenged the so-called old guard clinging to leadership positions to create more political and professional positions for them.
At the time of the 2019 elections, 1,358,468 Namibians registered to vote.
The voter turnout for the National Assembly election was 820,227, while 826,198 people voted in the Presidential election. This means the voter turnout was approximately 60.82 percent of the registered voters.
Of that number approximately one-third of the registered voters, or about 452,822 individuals, were born after 1990 – ‘bornfrees’.
This demographic represented a significant portion of the electorate which is a clear indicator of the growing influence of younger voters in Namibia’s political landscape.
In the meantime, the last cohort of the first generation of the ‘bornfrees’ have reached voting age.
As the year of expectation slowly starts to gain momentum the expectation of the youth in Namibia for a better future also gains momentum and by the time the Presidential and National Assembly rolls around in November, at least half of the electorate that will be waiting to cast their vote, will be ‘bornfrees.
They will be standing at polling stations in long queues for hours with bright eyes firmly fixed on new opportunities and the prospect of prosperity.
Like the 150,000 little children who started school this year, some ‘bornfrees’ will be reluctant to leave the safety and warm embrace of the political parties of their fathers while others will revel in the prospect of a new dawn and the opportunity that the exploration of new horizons bring.