The dark spots on Heroes/Heroines Day

The dark spots on Heroes/Heroines Day

Some roads are this weekend leading to Oskahati, Okahandja and other destinations.
There is the Om’guluwombashe, a shrine equally dedicated to heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle and which from recent reports does not seem to have been getting the necessary attention.

True, from a perspective of tourism there has been some attention but not from the communities where this shrine is located. This is because for such communities this shrine must be akin to their temples and/or holy fire where they say their daily prayers and/or connect daily with their ancestors for that all important daily inspiration.

Heroes/Heroines Day comes a week after only last weekend a section of the Namibian society undertook pilgrims to yet other important historic shrines in the resistance and liberation struggles of the Namibian people.

This was to Otjihenda, close to the village of Omatupa in the Okakarara Constituency, where that indomitable lion in the resistance against German occupation of the motherland, Assa Riarua, has been interred.

This was the time when a section of the Namibian resistance movement against German occupation and colonialism was in the middle of the war of resistance. Thus, being given this interment and the burying of their fallen heroes and heroines was near impossible and a luxury.

Given this, it is befitting that such honour has been bestowed upon this warrior as much as national recognition is yet to reach him. Hence, in essence Heroes/Heroines Day should be seen and understood in its full and wider context.

The context is that at various epochs in the resistance and liberation history of Namibia, our peoples and communities and/or liberation movements contributed variously but no less significantly to the realisation of the means to an end.
This means being free and independent, as well as socio-economic justice for all.
Similarly, last weekend another strata of the Namibian society converged on another shrine near Gobabis on the farm for one of the pilgrims of the Ovambanderu.

This again was to pay homage to fallen heroes and heroines and other eminent people of this community. As divergent and varied as these roads are, and/or may have been and would be, in many aspects they have one common goal in the end.

This is to honour the heroes and heroines who made it possible that this country is today free and independent. Certainly all are enjoying the freedom and independence of this country, although not to the same extent and degree.
This is because at the time of writing this piece the media carried yet another story on the life of an elderly citizen, a 78-year-old man in Swakopmund, being lost after a thief broke into his house.

The sad thing is not only that even our senior citizens cannot and are no longer safe in their homes, but even their lives are no more guaranteed within the confines of what are supposed to be their homes, nor anymore priceless.

As much as one would have wished to be proud on this occasion, and to be observing such when and by paying homage to our fallen heroes and heroines, it is difficult to do so in the face of the siege under which society seems to be from all kinds of evils, ranging from poverty to even lack of respect for human life.

Certainly, there can be not much to be proud about and celebrate under these circumstances. Yes, we owe it to our forebears to pay them homage for their heroics and heroism in ensuring that Namibia is and has been free and independent. But can such freedom and independence be meaningful when lives are lost in this fashion?
Certainly this cannot inspire any pride and reason for joy on Heroes/Heroines Day. A day of sharing reflections of the good memories of the heroics and heroism of our heroes and heroines. A day of rededicating ourselves to good neighbourliness and citizenship in the true spirit of ‘My Namibia, My Country, My Pride’.

Our heroes and heroines are not only the departed, but as much our elderly amongst us are as much our heroes and heroines. Yet, it seems we are unable to protect them, only to go on the pedestals of Heroes/Heroines Day in tribute to the departed and vanquished while the living within our midst have no safe havens and their lives are worthless.
For those converging on Okahandja, traditionally the day has been to connect with their ancestors to bestow good fortunes on their communities. But beleaguered as these communities have been the past few years, standing up against one another, can they really expect their ancestors to smile on them before they make the necessary amends? If the status quo of recent years remains, there is as much no reason to be proud of the pilgrim to Okahandja!

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