This week was, by and large, a bad one. Anything good that happened during its duration was largely dwarfed by the ongoing teachers’ strike. Armies of teachers rallied on the streets, casting a dark shadow on the futures of the children they teach. We are not blaming anyone here – for the record.
But perhaps one thing stood out this week. The announcement by government that veteran politician Hidipo Hamutenya would get a hero’s funeral at the nationally revered Heroes Acre burial site was the rare glimmer of hope that lifted the spirit of a mourning nation.
These are encouraging remarks that Namibia is gradually crawling out of the politics of yesteryear, where Hamutenya, by virtue of dumping Swapo after his 2004 congress defeat, might have missed out on a hero’s burial. True, it would have been interesting to see what burial he would’ve gotten had he not returned to Swapo a year ago – but we’d give it the benefit of the doubt.
The fact that ‘HH’ did not re-establish himself in Swapo upon his return, but still got a hero’s funeral is in itself a very encouraging step towards building a Namibia that recognises the work of its children, and not the political hats they had on.
In fact we want to see diversity at Heroes Acre in the years to come. Heroes from other disciplines than just liberation politics must, too, start to get recognition and burials at such sacred sites when their journey on earth ends.
Where merited, we also want to see political diversity at the Heroes Acre – if it is generally agreed that the country’s opposition too has its own heroes. The current opposition dispensation perhaps has no heroes, in the true sense, who would merit a place at the Heroes Acre – or even just a hero’s funeral in their village of origin.
But times are changing. New champions are born every day and they would one day grow into heroic figures whom death might find on the opposition side of the political divide. In fact when according any Namibian burial status – whether official, state or hero – political affiliation should not matter.
President Hage Geingob must, therefore, be commended for the decision to accord Hamutenya a hero’s funeral, because not even the latter’s pivotal role in the formation of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) would erase his liberation credentials and what he achieved after independence.
A diplomat of note, Hamutenya’s engagement with the international community, including the United Nations, played a pivotal role in the country eventually gaining independence. His accolades are too long to be inked here, hence the decision to accord him a hero’s status is fully justified.
We all have an obligation to build this nation. The Hamutenyas did their part and we, the living ones, must take it from where he left it. Our contribution does not necessarily have to be a repeat on Hamutenya’s heroics. Today there’s no need to wage psychological warfare by asking the UN to intervene in our domestic affairs.
Things, such as national reconciliation, tolerance and national unity will make us modern-day heroes.