Words as stones
National leaders must always be on their guard about the tone and words they use to respond to the issues presented to them.
This is especially true in a society where the tribal powder keg is constantly dragged into public view for political and other mileage.
We have previously expressed our concern about this point, and we continue to do so. How leaders speak about people, subjects and issues, reflects their priorities and values.
It is in this light that we must see the controversial comments of OvaHerero Chief Vekuii Rukoro, regarding an “Owambo government”.
In response to this, President Hage Geingob reportedly quipped recently that: “One day, when people were calling me a Kwangara, I said if Comrade Nujoma or Pohamba were to call me that, I will be worried. [But], if flies are flying around, I will just ignore.”
Just as we criticised Chief Rukoro for the harshness of his words about the democratically elected Namibian government and its president, who secured election in a landslide with 87 percent of the national vote, we reiterate our concerns to all leaders to carefully select the words they use, when speaking to the nation.
Words set tones and attitudes. It is vital that every citizen knows that they can freely and openly speak their minds, without being subjected to name-calling or insults from our dignified elected leaders, who are held in high esteem.
Citizens with points of view, whether we like hearing what they have to say or not, ought not to be referenced with “flies”, even if this may just have been used idiomatically.
When a leader’s words can be interpreted as even the slightest form of denigration, that belittling attitude will inevitably filter down into the rank-and-file of, for example, an administration, and become the way a certain group of people or that issue is, henceforth, handled.
Words can be used as stones and we must watch where we throw them.