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Economic Independence in our life time - Scavengers at the dumpsite from Ngugi's perspective

By Salomo Mekondjo Nambinga
When a Namibian child including a born free feeds at the dumpsite, we must pause as a nation to reflect on the economic path that we have chosen as a country as a nation and as a people after the dawn of our hard won independence in 1990. Have we betrayed some of the liberation struggle ideals including that of creating a just society? Are we sailing the ship in the right direction? Or have we become a capitalistic society where by the bourgeoisie exploit the working class majority and the poor?

In this formulation, this writer would like to illustrate a point that having some Namibians surviving from the food at the dumpsite is the pure sign of capitalism at its best of which Ngugi Wathiogo warned us against in his book titled Matigari. In his book , Ngugi uses Marxist philosophy to denounce a capitalistic society whereby the ownership of means of production remains in the hands of former colonizers and the few former colonized elites who have turned themselves into colonizers of their own people.

When our people feed at the dumpsite, we must release that we are own imperialists and own colonizers. This is because we are now in charge of our own affairs both politically, socially and economically . Since 1990, we have been the masters of our own destiny as a nation. We have a choice to decide whether we want to prosper as a nation. We have a choice to decide whether we want to be failures and continue to blame colonialism, imperialisms and westerners for our own short comings. There is a proverb in my language that says “ Ombedhi ihayi yi moshiti” which literally means that a blame is never apportioned to a tree. Thus it is not unusual when you hear some politicians argue that one of the reasons why people feed at the dumpsite today is because of colonialism. But, how can you convince a born free who has never seen war in his/ her life time?.

One may argued that this born free has to be told that the resources are not enough today because they were exploited and shipped out of the country by the former colonizers . However, this born free is well informed and has read about the missing of ODC 100 millions , Avid 30 millions, and recently GIPF 600 + millions. Hard to believe! In some his writings, the author of this formulation has always stressed that we are a small nation with a small population. Our country is endowed with so many natural resources that are enough to feed us all. However, it is greed and lack of Getting –it – done - Leadership that are depriving our people a decent life.

People are not feeding at the dumpsite because we are a poor country but just because of those who want to eat a lone. And because of those who are betraying the trust bestowed upon them by the masses: The trust to lead them to prosperity, the trust to take them out of the abject poverty, the trust to put a bread on their table, the trust to give them hope when they despair, the trust to create a just society where resources are fairly shared , the trust to fairly distribute the independence cake so that an ordinary girl in Oshiyayeka village can enjoy a piece of that cake and the trust to make Namibia a winning nation where by all her people go to bed with something in their stomachs. The Namibia where boys and girls from different tribes, regions , and religion are free to pursue their dreams and achieve them successfully.

The Namibia where by the dumpsite belongs to rotten food only and not to a Namibian child or Namibian citizen.

That Namibian is possible in our life time as long as we rededicate ourselves and remain true to the liberation struggle ideals of which one was to fight for a just society. Our Founding Father, Dr. Sam Nujoma always reminds us of the importance of fighting for economic independence of our country. Therefore, this writer believes that the fight for economic independence requires champions who are ready to stand a lone provided that they fight for the well being of all Namibians.

I t is a fight that calls for all young people from different political parties, different religion, schooled and non- schooled , educated and uneducated to join hands and declare that Namibia is a great nation with great people , hence no one deserve to hunt for food at the dumpsite. This writer strongly believes that ‘’ The joy of our independence can only be truly felt and celebrated when there is nobody who feeds from food at the dumpsite’’. History will judge us harshly, if we fail to win economic independence in our life time. It will be seen as a betrayal of the highest order to those men and women who sacrificed their precious lives during the liberation struggle of our motherland. The story of people eating at dumpsite is an insult to our living liberation struggle Icons like Dr. Sam Nuyoma who sacrificed his youthful years to lead our liberation struggle until independence was attained. Equally, It is an insult to the sufferings that Ya Toivo went through for the independence of this country.

This writer is convinced that these two liberation struggle icons are heartbroken to hear people eating at dumpsite in the country that they tirelessly fought for and liberated though sweats, tears and bloods.

For those who have read the book Matigari by Ngugi would realize how he uses Marxist- African perspective to advocate for a classless society in any of the post colonial African country. He does so by indicating that the means of production In terms of land, factories, decent houses and real wealth are only being enjoyed by the elites on the expenses of the suppressed majority poor. Hence, he uses different characters to signify the plight of ordinary men/women in any African country after Independence.

For example, Matigari ma Njuruungi ( fights who remained in the bush) symbolizes the plight of the war veterans and their shattered dream of a just society that they fought for and liberated from the yoke of colonialism. Whereas Ngaruro wa Kiriro , a worker is used to demonstrate how workers are being exploited and how he stands up to fight for their rights . On the one hand, Muriuku , an orphan represents the plight of children in any post colonial African country. On the other hand, Nguthera, a prostitute is a symbol of women abuse and sufferings.

Ngugi uses the Marxist – African perspective through the voice of his protagonist Matigari to critique the unfair economic distribution of resources as well as socio political structures existing within any post colonial African country. ‘’ I must rise up now and go to all the public places ,blowing the horn of patriotic service and trumpet of patriotic victory’’ (p.6). The story of people eating at the dumpsite in our country is almost similar with sufferings of children that Ngugi highlights in his book Matigari as follow: “ Each child had to pay a fee to enter(garbage yard)…to fight it out with dogs, vultures, rats,… rotten tomatoes ,sugarcane chaff, banana peels , bones …anything” (p.11). At one point he remarked as follows: “ So a hand full of people still profited from the suffering of the majority, the sorrow of many being the joy of the few”. ( p.12). How do you describe a nation whereby a respected figure has an audacity to celebrate a birthday party that costs about N$180 000 while the ordinary citizens fight for their survival at dumpsite?

It does need a rocket scientist to understand that it is very unfortunate to celebrate at a dangerous time. Lucky Dube once sang that “ Things that we do today may haunt us tomorrow”. This includes the choices that we make.

Let us lead people with our hearts and clear conscience. Evo Maroles, Bolivian left –wing president halved his salary when he assumed office in 2006 for the love his people.

This writer acknowledges the positive strides that we have made as a nation and the tireless efforts that the Government is engaged in to improve the living standards of all Namibians. It is his sincere hope that with the proper implementation of TIPEEG, working hard towards Vision 2030 coupled with provision of quality education, economic independence is possible in our life time.


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