What has gone wrong with us
25th of May is a day dedicated to ALL Africans? It has been a day Africa has been celebrating since 1963 and ever since this day has been known as the Africa Day. On this day we celebrate the achievements that we Africans have achieved. It is a day where we acknowledge our heritage, a day we embrace our culture and identity. As you celebrate this day, a lot of issues do come into one’s mind and topical on these issues is what defines an African? Is it the uniqueness of the African culture, together with its diversity, or our ability as Africans to be able to imitate others? Why are we not proud of ourselves? Why do we judge ourselves using borrowed standards as our benchmark? Today Africa is independent only on paper? We are indeed living artificial lives. We have long abandoned our originality, we have traded our souls to others and we still believe that all answers to our own problems should be obtained from elsewhere other than our OWN homes.
Why Western-Chinese solutions to African problems? Because the majority of our leaders said so. After all everything is tied to foreign donation and grants in the name of AID. Nothing wrong. Have you ever seen or heard of AID directed towards the commercialisation of the AFRICAN culture? Please wake me up in case I am still sleeping. From where I am standing, it’s an emphatic NO. Why? It’s dangerous for them to allow you to think from the bottom you. The reason why the West have failed to penetrate the East and Arabs. What am I talking about? There are always two personalities to every human being. To bring it home, there is George Simataa and Simataa Machinga. They are never the same person. You can have George Simataa for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But NEVER Simataa Machinga. The latter’s inner and outer being including his psychological make up can ONLY be understood through the philosophy of "Omuntu Omuntu molwaantu." Machinga doesn’t pray over a challenge. He would rather cry over it and summon the spirit of his ancestors. Once the ancestors have taken over, even death is an option. Its a deeper level of Ubuntu principle. You will be foolish to think you understand or know a person if you have not met him or her at deeper level of Ubuntu. Its ONLY at Ubuntu level a person can convincingly direct the people kutja "ina mu shi ita vela." And the people shall obey. There are enough stories before or after the arrival of any religion you can learn from. Okwiitanga (chanting) it’s not about showing off. It’s about summoning the spirit of your ancestors to take you over in totality until victory is achieved. Thus Aalumentu (the brave) ohaavalwa (born) not made. It has nothing to do with what you possess (materially or not). An African will tell you kutja Aalumentu subscribe to the notion that "ondjala iha yi endwa na yo peke" (even if you are poor, you don’t go around with a begging bowl even to your enemies - cowards). Hope now you understand why Aalumentu have many namesakes. There is a reason why in some quarters people will ask kutja "ano owo okwa li polwoondi peni? It makes sense as for thirty years people have been sacrificing and fighting for the liberation of the motherland. Thats their claim to fame.
The question is: which nation doesn’t want to be appreciated? Namibia does. Some nations went through a cultural revolution and then industrial. Do we have time on our side? For the diversity of our culture to be diluted into a one pot, anytime is the right time.
The sad thing is: we have been known to reject what belongs to us, and rather try with many causalities, to imitate others. We have been convinced by the “wise men from elsewhere” that our culture, the devil and all social ills are the same. Today, a Councillor from Opuwo will not be allowed to enter the House of Assembly if he/she is dressed in the traditional dress. Statutes will call it “indecent exposure”. One would want to ask why and sadly the answer will be “because the law says so”. African brothers and sisters, we are indeed limiting ourselves by suppressing our own identities, suppressing our own cultures and denying who really we are. I am for sure my fellow Councillor from Opuwo received donations from the “well-wishers’, who have given him suits that he is expected to put on whenever he goes in the National House. Anything to the contrary will attract all media houses both local (including my favourite - Fashion Police) and foreign. Trying to project one’s identity is viewed as news worthy, in a negative way.
That mentality is common even in our own institutions that have been tasked to spearhead our economic activities. Yes the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture exists, a gain on paper (nothing to do with the person in charge). There has not been any clear link between our youth (which is the majority) and our culture (which is our heritage and identity). The majority cannot today be able to make a living through their identity. Our culture is still raw, in the same form our minerals are being shipped out of our country. If you can budget for Epangelo Mining (which I fully back) why can’t you budget for the equivalent in the cultural sphere? Where are we missing it fellow Namibians?
Commercialisation of our culture hasn’t been understood ever since we got our political independence. Today, there is no record of any effort that has been put into commercialisation of this heritage. Any product that is produced in the form of embracing our culture is seen as less important or less exciting than a DVD containing bombings and gun bullets. These foreign DVDs have a good market here in Namibia, and Africa at large. And guess what? The foreign donors (irrespective of who they are) did their homework well, and they will enjoy this market till the return of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Is he going to deliver culturally? Your guess is as good as mine. For now, they came, they saw and they conquered. Their cultural influence has penetrated into the veins of our politicians, our captains of industry and even into our own custodians of our very own Culture (the youth).
Anything fully Namibian will not last. It is at this time that I salute the likes of Chief Kuaima Riruako who in their humble contribution have done tremendously well to preserve the wellbeing of our culture. I wish him a speedy recovery. Anything foreign (including Nigerian) will enjoy royalties up to the end of time. Aren’t they the ones judging and directing our music lately? For what is worth, I despise it. Why? They would not be where they are today (as a country) if they had allowed or dependent on others to validate the commercialisation of their culture (entertainment). For they know short cuts shall always lead into long cuts.
Today, their efforts has paid off. Nigerian culture has raked in billions of dollars through commercialisation of their culture. They have managed to add value to their cultures through music and films, and luckily, they get huge support from their industries, governments and their own citizens. Sadly for Namibia, and Africa as a whole, save only for our good brothers in Nigeria, no single cent in our national budgets is set aside for supporting these growing industry. Industry with is based on identity, heritage and originality. Nigeria today can compete globally in any front that has anything to do with entertainment, culture and the involvement of youth. Nigeria does well in sport (being it athletics or any ball game), in music and film and in education. Luckily for our brothers, they get huge support from politicians, captains of industries and their own citizens. And never as an invent oriented approach. They also know that industries are build through industrialist and not through artists or unions. There is a reason why even in the Namibian context the misunderstood infant industry protection (IIP) is given to an industry as opposed to a company. Help me salivate further by showing you how IIP has helped to uplift nations from the doldrums by creating jobs for their youth and young at heart without firing a bullet.
Today Nollywood has become a phenomenon which has helped in shaping perceptions of Nigeria and the Nigerian society. And this has been achieved largely on the back of the resilient entrepreneurial Nigerian spirit. Nollywood as taken the Nigerian message to all corners of the world, even faster than our own government’s international diplomatic efforts in marketing Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Don’t ask me the role our embassies are performing in the promotion of our culture. But I can tell you what the Western (French, British, German and Spain) and BRICKS embassies are doing culturally in Namibia.
Who said this is going to be a tall order for the Land of the Brave. Why are we scared to venture into new things? And why Namibia is called the Land of the Brave anywhere? Is it fear of failure or lack of belief in our own selves? Do we need foreigners to come and show us how it is done, “the foreigners’ way?” Anything the Namibian way is not good enough? Anything Namibian lacks quality. Anything Namibian isn’t worthy investing in. Let us wake up and smell the coffee. The resources are there in the form of our culture. What is missing is value addition and support both materially and financially. Money is there, only that we still believe that only others can guide us on where to invest it.
Entertainment is the fastest growing industry in Namibia but unfortunately politicians don’t notice it. Captains of industries don’t notice it either and by such no single statistic is available to let us know how far we have gone in this industry. We only know that Youth have talent, youth are proud of being Namibians, and youth need our help. Let us all enjoy our African Day, and please remember Africa’s wealth is in its natural resources including its diverse culture.
Life is good, you dance to the tunes of life and sing to the melody of life as well.