Let's embrace each other

04 June 2019 | Columns

Culture minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa had some salient advice for Namibians when she addressed the second annual Nama Cultural Festival that took place in Keetmanshoop this past weekend.

Hanse-Himarwa said while the Nama embrace their indigenous cultural identity, they must remember that it is equally important that they engage in cross-cultural activities with other cultural groups within Namibia.

“I am saying this because we are first Namibians before we are Nama, Damara, Ovaherero, etc. Being Namibian should therefore be our common denominator. I encourage you to learn from other cultural groups, and they from you, in our quest to practice unity in diversity,” she said.

“Unity in isolation and unity only amongst ourselves will not serve any purpose, as we are living in societies, locally as well as internationally, hence the term used in contemporary language is 'global village'.”

Embracing other cultures remains a critical part of nation-building, especially in the context of Namibia, which has emerged from under the heel of the apartheid regime and its hated policies of racial and tribal separation.

In order to continue healing this young nation, we have to take more than a peek beyond the flimsy curtains of differences that separate us. It is often sad to read the tribal and racial stereotypes and undertones being spewed by Namibians, especially on social media, where keyboard warriors have taken it upon themselves to blame this tribe or that for our current woes, including the downtrodden economy.

We need to rise above these stereotypes and debate issues progressively and with respect.

Namibia dodged a bullet with the policy of reconciliation, after the fall of apartheid. We cannot afford to take steps backward by employing rhetoric that continuously claims superiority based on tribe or skin colour.

What is critical now is that we engage with every issue on its merits, especially when it comes to highly sensitive debates and avoiding playing the blame-game.

We can ill-afford to pit ordinary Namibians against each other during these difficult times.

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