You Were One of Us

EVERY TIME I open a newspaper, watch the news on TV or listen to the radio, there is a story about corruption or the “misappropriation of funds” in Namibia.

I have reached a point where this is obviously no longer shocking to me but I am still disappointed. Every single time, I’m equally disappointed.

When one looks at how many people are living below the poverty line and the fact that most of those misappropriated funds are meant to help those people, one cannot help but feel defeated.

The fact of the matter is, however, that most of these cases are perpetrated by people in positions of power who are from the ‘previously disadvantaged’ groups. To me, this makes no sense whatsoever. Every time I see a picture of the culprit smiling in the paper, I almost want to shout: “But you are one of us! How could you do this?”

I have come to realise that I am particularly hard on leaders who fell under the ‘non-white’ category during apartheid and are now taking advantage of the people who voted them into power. They are supposed to understand, and to care. I had higher expectations from them. Perhaps that is what makes it that much more disheartening.

The song before independence was one of unity. The promises made were that once the colonisers were removed from power, our people would lead the country in a fair and honest manner. The dream of an independent Namibia was the dream of a Namibia with no second-class citizens. But here we are. The informal settlements are overflowing and the ‘working poor’ class filled with skilled and educated youth grows daily.

Perhaps the money and power made them forget the basics.

Namibian leaders, have you been rich and powerful for so long that you have forgotten what it is like to be hungry? To be poor? To be a ‘second-class’ citizen in your own land? Have your power and wealth resulted in a disconnect from what, not so long ago, was your reality too? Are we wrong to have expected better from you? Are we wrong to have believed in the promises of an independent Namibia?

There is no reason for so much poverty in Namibia. Please, do better.

Published in The Namibian Newspaper as Letter of the Week on Friday 23 March 2018.–You-Were-One-Of-Us

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