The Windhoek Observer sent its intern reporters to Maerua Mall in Windhoek to get public opinions on friendship.
The answers we received tell the story that Namibians greatly value having good friends even more than having close family members in some cases. A few we interviewed liked having armies of friends and others have just one special friend.
Some pointed out that we use the word ‘friend’ these days too lightly. We talk about how many ‘friends’ we have on Facebook, but most of them are people we really don’t even know or interact with in person. Having a real friend, therefore, needs to be re-defined.
In these tough times, to lean on a friend, not only for material support like to loan you money, but to reassure you when things are difficult and laugh with you when things are great, is very important to survival. Having false friends or fair-weather friends weakens us, but having real friends, makes us stronger.
Shaambe Nangolo stated that friendship is a tool that defines our true colours during bad and good times. “I don't have a lot of friends. I just focus on a very few, quality relationships. Friends are important because I ‘know’ they are there in my life. Having a friend gives me a feeling of stability to know that if I am in trouble, I have someone to fall back on; someone who understands me.”
Martin Nence said that people should learn to maintain friendships in order to be ‘more’ than they are when they live all alone. “My friendships are mostly with females and this has sustained and lifted me up as well as helped me in all aspects of my life.
“True friends are those that I can get together with for lunch or drink and be silly and laugh till my stomach hurts,” Martin said. When I don't connect with my friends for a while, I tend to get out-of-balance; I worry too much and complain. My kids benefit from seeing me with good friends as this teaches them how to care for other people by showing them about the importance of giving and receiving respect and trust from others,” he added.
Blanche Dyers and Liaano Hansen said that, “You cannot choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Good friends tell you straight what they feel you need to hear, even if it can hurt you sometimes; they do so because they CARE about what happens to you. In many cases, your closest friends know you better than your parents and your family members. They influence you like no one else.”
At the mall, we bumped into the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse Himarwa who shared her thoughts on friendship.
She stated that friends are sometimes more important than family members. “I have a lot of friends on different levels, professional and political as well as family members. I had many friends over the years, but at some stage a few have left as life moves on, but some still continue to be part of my life and those seem to be the genuine ones.
“My elder sister is just not a sister to me but close friend and confidante. I can share anything with her like embarrassing and joyous moments and I know she can keep all my secrets”, says the Minister.
“A strong friendship is for those who act like you, share your beliefs, keep your secrets and love and respect you. Friendship is very important and I regard it as a gift from God if they are good friends. But there can also be bad friends that are part of us only in good times so they can benefit from you. If you are a public figure or influential person, they always want to be associated or be seen with you,” she added.
Jezmen Kheibos said that she feels that real friends are those that are with you during good and difficult times. “I only have one true friend and the rest are acquaintances. My friend is always open to me and we do not hide anything from each other. Sometimes we need people other than our relatives that we can depend on – sometimes, family members are not so dependable,” she says.
Lungi and Mumy Hamwele stated that friendship is a bond that connects us to those that we rely on. “In any friendship honesty is the key, you need to be transparent, trustable, loving but before you can be a friend to anyone you must first be friends with yourself.