March 21, 2020 is the 30th year of Namibia’s independence and the inauguration of Namibia’s third president Hage Geingob for his second and final term in office. These dual celebrations are not about one individual, but about what Namibia as an entire nation of 2.6 million people, stands for.
It is a freedom day that many thought would never come. Some, who are heroes in the struggle, sometimes thought liberation and self-determination would not come and yet they fought on anyway. There were dark days like Cassinga or the loss of great heroes like Tobias Hainyeko or Mandume Ya Ndemufayo.
There were encouraging days like the passage of international sanctions against South Africa or the defeat of the German Schutztruppe at Fort Namutoni.
People who benefitted from apartheid and colonialism prayed each night on their knees that independence would never come. In spite of all naysayers, there IS something special to celebrate on March 21, 2020. That celebration this year is even more significant due to the swearing in of Hage G Geingob as the properly and legitimately elected president of the Republic of Namibia.
Our festivities are a double bonus: 30 years of Independence and the affirmation of the rule of law in Namibia by swearing in the duly elected president.
There is no doubt that in a healthy democracy there are different opinions on every issue. Criticism is a part of freedom, even when we hear things we may not like or that make us angry. Independent thought must never be supressed or censored; indeed, that is what the struggle was all about.
Those who did not vote for Hage Geingob or do not support him have the right to oppose his policies and ideas. But, love of nation; love of the only home we have, supersedes whether one likes or dislikes an individual that has won high office at the ballot box.
It is not an individual who stands before the Chief Justice with his hand in the air and takes the oath of office, it is the democratically elected president who stands there. No one person is greater than the constitution.
The presidency is an institution which must be held in high regard, lest we declare to the world that our systems and our democratic traditions, mean nothing. People in Namibia must learn to love the country and what it stands for MORE than they dislike one individual.
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.” The shared Independence and Inauguration Day is the time to embrace this nation. The day after can be the time to iterate complaints, demands, and wishes once again.
While we cannot go to the stadium this year to witness and celebrate the inauguration and Independence Day due to Covid-19 that is holding the world hostage right now, it does not diminish the great sense of pride that should be in the air whenever we celebrate on March 21st.
For those with anger and complaints, consider this: if you do not like the colour of the paint on the walls of a house, save up your money, contract professionals and choose a paint that will make the house better in your view; then, ask others if they agree with you.
To burn down the house just to solve your own ugly paint problem is selfish and mindlessly destructive. Now, you and everyone else living in the house are vulnerable and homeless. You destroyed everything, for want of a different paint colour. This is kamikaze politics in our view; it produces nothing.
Along with those who despise Geingob so much that they would jeopardize the entire country’s democratic processes, there are those who never wanted independence for the previously disadvantaged majority in the first place.
There are also those who would rather have demons from Hades run Namibia than the democratically elected Swapo Party. Let us be mindful of the damage that such groups agitating from within the majority can cause. They live to make the nation forget the importance of the democratic institutions and processes that many people have been working on for over 100 years.
The document we also celebrate at 30 years of independence and the swearing in of a president is the constitution. That august document has been hailed around the world as one of the best ever written that guarantees the rights and freedoms of a people. And it still stands.
Applauding on Independence Day does not mean that a president or party is sacrosanct or above reproach; it is an expression of pride about one’s country. Cheering on inauguration day is not about Geingob as an individual, but the love of country which is more important. The time for cheering is today; the time for openly expressing other heartfelt sentiments is perhaps tomorrow.