'Imported lifestyles' detrimental

A social activist says Namibia's development model is replacing heritage.

31 July 2019 | Cultural

Ohangwena community-based social activist Hangula Hamwaalwa does not support the current paradigm Namibia is using to develop communities.

He says the current development model replaces Namibian heritage with imported lifestyles, which is in contradiction of the theory that implies that development must not replace heritage and the way people live, while bringing modernisation.

Hamwaalwa said the proclamation of townships in communal areas in many northern parts of the country is one example of this.

“Who says the Eurocentric lifestyle of living is what all Namibians want? Who says development is only when you live on serviced and proclaimed township land?” Hamwaalwa questioned. He said residents are forced to leave their traditional homesteads to pave the way for so-called development. He said some people have been using the land for food production for many years, but later they are forced to move so townships can be developed. “Moving residents from their land in the name of development is not only affecting people's livelihoods; it is also disrupting their heritage and cultural practices and norms. In most cases, land owners in the proclaimed areas are not compensated fully, but are only given peanuts to vacate the land they have been living on their whole lives, and they do not have anywhere else to find such land,” said Hamwaalwa.

“If they refuse to move from their piece of land to pave the way for so-called development, they will be labelled as anti-development, and local authorities use all possible means to make sure they take such land, and this is by means of introducing payments for municipal services.”

Hamwaalwa said during his visits the Northern Communal Areas, many places are earmarked for proclamations. He said many people who kept animals or cultivated land at their houses have to stop this because it is against local authority regulations

“Now that people's productive land has been taken away, this is being replaced with institutions such as the poverty eradication ministry, to make sure that people are not doing anything, but they are being spoon-fed.

“This is not development, because it does not recognise the needs and desires of local people. We do not need to entirely emulate what other nations in the world are doing, without thoroughly analysing the effects and endangerment of our own environment,” Hamwaalwa said.

The poverty eradication ministry has introduced a Food Bank programme to feed poor households in urban areas.

Hamwaalwa added that Africans, particularly Namibians, should localise their own development agenda.

ILENI NANDJATO

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