Conversations with Age

Recently, I was fortunate enough to find myself in conversation with a group of middle-aged and elderly women. We spoke about inter alia life, love, strategy, success, culture, the past and the future. These were successful business women from all over Africa and because I was the youngest person there by decades, they took it upon themselves to educate me on a few life lessons.

To be fair, I was the one who started asking the questions. I think, because I had posed these questions to both myself and different audiences before, I was merely expecting them to echo what I thought. This did not happen.

As these women spoke, wisdom oozed from every word. I hung on to every sentence in awe, listening attentively as I watched every naïve thought, every arrogant preconception fly quickly out the window. At the end of this conversation, I had so much clarity. I didn’t necessarily agree with everything they said, naturally cultures and religious beliefs differ. However, in those two hours, my life had been enriched in beyond measure.

As an educated Namibian female with big dreams in my early twenties, I left that table with a new found hunger for the wisdom only those who have experienced and conquered can provide. I do, however feel quite fortunate as I feel there never was and never will be a better time in my life to have this hunger. I’m just old enough to understand the importance of culture and just young enough to absorb what our parents and grandparents have to pass on to me.

One of the women said to me, “Learn from our mistakes, why should you repeat them when we have already done so for you?” In as much as it is one of the most basic of African cultures, the majority of households in Namibia have simply become “too busy” to sit down for story telling (“okuxungila” in my mother tongue).

Parents sit down with your children, lend them your wisdom. Namibian youth, sit down with your parents and grandparents and absorb what they have to say. Keep the good, throw out the bad.

Ndapewoshali Ndahafa Ashipala

Published: 01 August 2014, The Namibian Newspaper

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