It makes no sense for people to constantly complain in Namibia and yet, they don’t get off their butts and do anything about it. They moan and groan about what government is or is not doing while they sit on their backsides and snipe from the side lines at anyone else who tries to make things better.
I sat at an event this past weekend and again, I heard so many complaints about the tough economic times Namibia faces. Then, I heard someone say they weren’t going to vote because they didn’t like the way things were going. What a weak-kneed, spineless cop-out! The time to get active and loud is exactly when things aren’t going well. Leaders need more support in bad times than in good times; new ideas are needed when the chips are down more than when things are flying high.
Voting is one of the most important ways to speak your mind. I read that the Electoral Commission of Namibia has targeted the registration of 240,000 new voters. I heard from official opposition leader McHenry Venaani that his party had begun voter registration campaigns long ago. These are good things.
Voting is the one sure way in a democratic society to light a fire under the feet of those elected to serve. It is the way to find a path towards the society that you seek. Those who blithely throw away their votes because they are too lazy to follow the issues, to apathetic to ask questions or demand answers, too cowed by the status quo to shout another point of view or too beaten down by life to raise their heads, must re-learn their individual power.
Do not silence yourself. Speak out at public events, write letters to newspapers, write letters to members of Parliament, your governor and even your Head of State! Locally, approach your regional counsellors or mayors. Ask respectfully for an appointment and speak your truth. Have data, evidence and gather a constituency of those who want the same things you do. But, not voting is the silliest way to ‘protest’ anything. Your non-vote is actually a positive vote for whatever you DON’T want!
I will not accept the doom-and-gloom prophets and economic pundits who say that all is lost for Namibia or the political naysayers who are busy trying to convince us every single thing is bad about the current government. In saying this, I am not a blind cheerleader for the status quo either. I am tellin’ it like it ‘tis (at least for me).
Those performing well need to be named and cheered; those failing consistently (not just with one ‘oops’), must be named and shamed. And I don’t mean that such criticism should come in the form of anonymous barrages of hate and dung-shovelling on social media. I mean, step up, sign your name and speak truth to power. If something is not going the way you believe it should, then say so and then, say how it can be fixed. What law should be passed? What regulation should be scrapped? What decision-maker should be replaced and why, specifically…use facts, dates, events and actions in detail – leave personal animosity and hatred aside; there is no place for that mess when trying to build something better.
Shovelling manure is easier than finding the right place to put it. I don’t have much respect for people who shout for something that is in their individual best interest but which rains trouble on others. Worse, there are too many people who have no alternative suggestion of what else can be done and they are busy criticising everything other people try to do. Nothing can ever please these types of people and they lack the courage to anything to make a change.
I have said it often in this column and I’ll say it again: Do your homework, read about your topic, learn what the upside and downside are and then suggest some solutions. Indeed, your suggestions may be off the mark, maybe they lack some inside information that decision-makers have, or maybe your ideas sound impossible. But, don’t dwell in the land of ‘maybe’, dwell in the land of “I am taking action.”
In your community, church, school, local government or in a national forum, get busy when things are not going the way you want. Set aside tribal, religious, familial ‘issues’ and concerns and focus on your ideas and your proposed solutions. Go into the fight knowing that you will never get 100 percent of what you ask; there must always be compromise and negotiation. You may get something now, but make sure you force the door open in order to come back for the rest later.
Whatever it takes, don’t silence yourself. Don’t think “Oh I am white and cannot openly complain about this or that.” Don’t consider, “Oh, I am a woman and cannot go against chiefs, headmen, my boss, my political leader, my doctor or my pastor.” Don’t limit yourself by saying, “Oh, I am young and youth are supposed to be seen but not heard; I must respect my elders.” Don’t accept ‘lower’ class status by saying, “Oh, I don’t have much money and I cannot possibly know more than the ‘big men’ who drive ‘big cars.’” Hogwash! If you have something you truly believe, say it (with the same respect you would want for yourself)…clearly speak your truth and don’t remain silent. Show up for the party and stop peeking through the windows of this democracy.