Crawling Towards Political Unity

In the Build up to the Christmas of 1941 – at the height of World War I – there was a series of widespread, unofficial ceasefires that took place along the Western Front. German and British soldiers, who were fighting on opposite ends, exchanged seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches. They even played football with one another. This unusual engagement by warring parties is today known as the Christmas Truce.

Namibia has had her fair share of troubled political confrontations, especially between supporters of the ruling party and the opposition. Sometimes it had appeared as though leaders of concerned parties have done little to discourage their followers from confrontations – some of which turned ugly, if not bloody.

But we have noted with great interest, and a sigh of relief, the efforts our leaders have rolled out in recent months to promote political unity. In fact the timing of such efforts could not have been better, with general elections a mere four months away.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba in particular has taken a lead in this regard. Apart from preaching unity at various platforms, the President once again showed leadership with the way he and fellow Swapo leaders have handled the situation regarding the sickness and eventual death of Ovaherero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako.

Being a Nudo president and therefore a direct rival of Swapo and its presidential candidate, Riruako was seen by some as an aersary – a ridiculous conclusion by any stretch of the imagination.

But President Pohamba’s private medic, Viscaya Amutenya, was among those who attended to Riruako for weeks as he battled ailment at a local private hospital.

Pohamba and Prime Minister Hage Geingob have both paid Riruako a visit in hospital, and used the occasion to comfort his worried family – a gesture that is usually expected from revered statesmen.

As fate would have it, unfortunately, Riruako passed away at the beginning of last month. But government was again in the lead insofar as treading carefully so as to make sure that the Ovaherero community, and indeed Nudo members, feel the entire nation is with them in their time of bereavement and sadness.

A state funeral was held in honour of the late paramount chief.

At grassroots level, Namibians continue to be divided on the basis of trivial matters such as the region of origin, tribe or skin colour.

And this is where leaders must move in and convince, without using force, that none is more Namibian than the other and that unity is the glue that will keep this nation intact and harmonised as we confront common challenges.

What government leaders did during the sickness and mourning of Riruako is therefore not a favour on their part – but an obligation which only tested leaders comply with.

The death of Riruako leaves a vacuum in both his community and party. Naturally, there would be great interest in succeeding the chief in both roles, and that’s when government is expected to maintain an arm’s length – far away from both processes.

The Namibian government has usually abstained from traditional matters and it is hoped the trend will continue as Ovaherero find a replacement for their revered late chief.

Harmony is what will make Namibia a winning nation, and each one of us, individuals or as a collective, have a role to play in this.

Source : New Era