Is Windhoek Show Grounds Yet Another Colonial Relic? [opinion]

Tjiparuro THE Windhoek Show Society (WSS) has decided ‘to teach’ the Ongombe Farmers Association (OFA) ‘a lesson’ by not allowing OFA to stage its second edition of the Okamatapati Annual Industrial and Agricultural Show at the Windhoek Show Gounds this year.

For the first time in what was seen as a groundbreaking step in the history of the Okamatapati Annual Show and OFA, this show came to the city last year. And indeed this appears not have gone down well with, if not with the WSS at least with the rest of its members, who in this hour and age still seem to consider the show grounds as the exclusive domain of the previously aantaged, to put it bluntly whites, be they Afrikaners, English or Germans.

I thought the time when the show grounds used to be the exclusive domain of the privileged cast, and for that matter a mere colonial relic, was over and gone with. But as they say old habits die hard, and a leopard cannot change its spots. Because this year, although the WSS let it appear that this is only ‘to teach’ the OFA a lesson, and to quote from the letter to OFA, “unless the members of the Ongombe Farmers Association (OFA) are also made to experience consequences, the chances are that the behaviour of this year’s show will simply proceed on the level of the previous show. The consequence for the OFA [is that] the terrain is not available this year.”

I wonder whether the WSS ever bothered to show courtesy by discussing the matter with the organisers of the Okamatapati Show, in particular with the chief organiser, Albert Tjihero, whom it lauds as a “long-standing and trusted friend.” And has the WSS actually considered the consequences of its decision on the entities called the Okamatapati Show and OFA, as well the entire Okapamatapati farming community if not the entire or a substantial part of the communal farming community at large?

And is the ban and its consequences proportionate to the purported ‘incidences’ which took place last year, during the inauguration of the Okamatapati Annual Show at the WSS? Foremost among the incidences is the allegation that the exhibitors and visitors were relieving themselves in the surrounding buildings. While I have understanding for the position of the WSS and their care and concern for the upkeep and maintenance of the facilities at the show grounds, I cannot help but be suspicious about their obvious lack of understanding and blatant and flagrant indifference for the teething problems that the OFA may be experiencing. That is despite the fact that they apparently accept the apology of OFA and furthermore declare that the good standing between the two entities has not been tarnished.

Surely the WSS appears to be speaking in two tongues. While on the one hand it is apparently very much appreciative of the long-standing relationship between the two entities, in particular with Tjihero, the arbitrariness and harshness of the decision on the other hand testifies to a glaring hypocrisy still rooted in the mentality of racial exclusivity that continues to render facilities such as the Windhoek Show Grounds no more than colonial relics, for exclusive use by the previously aantaged and their chosen few emerging African farmers and some communal farmers.

In my view their conduct smacks of continued exclusivity and the perpetuation of a hidden racial agenda in running such facilities. One such hidden agenda is to keep communal farmers in their perpetual condition and state of backwardness and servitude. OFA has been compelled by the dilapidated conditions of the auction pens in rural Okamatapati in the Okakarara constituency to resort to the Windhoek Show Grounds. Of course one cannot overlook the fact that the communal farmers have brought about the dilapidation of the auction pens at Okamatapati themselves and should therefore accept full responsibility. What is at issue here is that OFA is being denied the chance to showcase their animals at Namibia’s premier agricultural and industrial show.

The closest any communal farmer has ever been to a premier show has been the Windhoek Show Grounds and the Katutura Central Expo, inaugurated only about three years ago. Even at this expo their animals were hidden from the watchful eyes of potential buyers, and the mainstream livestock market at large. Never have communal farmers made such an impact as they did during the Ongombe Show in only a few days of its ostensible invasion and intrusion of the Windhoek Show Grounds, when Angolan buyers noticed the quality of animals they can produce. Thus the debut of OFA at the Windhoek Show Grounds, must and should have been the beginning of breaking the evil chain of the monopoly of white commercial farmers over stud breeding, and over the commercial livestock industry in general, if not over commercial farming in general.

I doubt whether the WSS has considered properly this factor, considering the claim that they gave long and serious consideration to the OFA request to participate again this year. It remains suspect whether OFA shall ever return to the Windhoek Show Grounds one day as the WSS pretends. If the WSS is as genuine about OFA using the Windhoek Show Grounds facilities in the future then the current ban, which I suspect is only the beginning of the end, should never have been imposed, period.

OFA should have been allowed to continue to build on last year’s successes, as well as to outgrow their teething problems.

Source : New Era