07 Jun 2013 04:30
By Sawi Lilungwe
WINDHOEK, 07 JUN (NAMPA) - Namibian academic and political analyst Dr Joseph Diescho says the concept of ?One Namibia, One Nation? is ?still an incomplete project?.
Diescho was speaking here on Wednesday at a public lecture organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung on the topic ?Resurgence of tribalism and ethnic tension, and its impact on national identity in the country?.
The lecture comes after recent local media reports about tribalistic fights that have emanated between prominent Oshikwanyama people farming in the Ondonga district, who were given until 01 July 2013 to vacate that land by the so-called ?Ondonga King's Special Commission?.
Local media reports this week had it that the commission allegedly went ahead with plans to remove the chairperson of the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority, George Nelulu and Ohangwena Governor Usko Nghaamwa, from land which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ondonga Traditional Authority.
The topic was also selected in an attempt to look back at the history of tribal and ethnic fights in Namibia.
?The fights experienced in the country over land or cattle have a very, very long history, and have been part of our lives for as long as we can remember,? Diescho, who was recently appointed to head the Namibian Institute for Public Administration and Management (NIPAM), said.
Quoting Pan Africanist Ali Mazrui who recently visited this country, Diescho said Mazrui made it clear during a debate in 1963 that Africans would not be Africans if they were not colonised.
?We derive the understanding of Africans because of the common experience we had when the masters from Europe colonised the continent. In other words, both the story of our Africanity as well as the story of our Namibian identity was created when we had a common enemy oppressing us,? he noted.
Professorially-speaking, Diescho said, the struggle for independence and the struggle for national freedom was never a struggle against tribalism, adding that the enemy was outside, and the fight for unity was a consequence of the desire to be free.
?No African country has gotten it right yet to unite a nation. In fact, on the book, some countries such as Tanzania have made a better attempt,? he stated.
The former President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, devoted almost his entire life to fighting tribalism, ?a trait lacking amongst Namibian leaders?, Diescho said, before adding that there are no words to describe tribal tensions in Africa and in Namibia.
?These are fights about land, cattle, influence, authority and even wealth. In South Africa, we are seeing what we deplore terribly as xenophobia, where Somalians and Mozambicans are burned alive. But what you see in South Africa is not xenophobia,? he indicated.
Diescho explained that xenophobia is defined as the fear of foreigners, and said in South Africa, there are also white and Indian people who are not viewed as looking foreign.
?What you see is the fear of Africans, and the fear of Africans is still with us. I am not certain that if a white farmer settled in Ondonga land, we would have the same anger.
It may very likely be that this person will be welcomed by the people in the community, who will see him as a bringer of employment. But if you are Oshiwambo, everyone will question what kind of employment you are bringing,? he noted.
He went on to say that at the heart of the matter lies the absence of a national identity.
?If you look at the history of Europe, be it Italy or Germany, you will find that leaders then devoted their efforts to uniting their nations. But now in Africa, we do not have leaders who are devoted to creating nations. We are very good at liberating people from colonial oppression, but not building nations,? Diescho informed the gathering.
He further suggested that if one looks at the behaviour of Namibian leaders before 1990 (Independence), there was a commitment to bringing about ?a Namibia?, and even after 1990, there was an effort to build ?a Namibia? until 2004.
?2004 should be banished from the calendar of Namibia. That is when things fell apart, when Rally for Democracy (RDP) president Hidipo Hamutenya lost his position as one of the critical elements in the Swapo-Party,? he added.
Diescho then questioned what Namibians see when they tear themselves apart over cattle and land, which are communal.
In the absence of a leadership to champion Namibians? national identity, the country will end up with more serious issues than those currently experienced.
?What we really need in this country is a critical mass of Namibians who will believe in certain things that will define who we are as a people. Namibians do not even know Namibia, how do you expect people to love those they don't know??, the learned doctor asked.