This Week In The Khuta – What has become of us?
Some of the greatest lessons that my father ever taught me was to give, stay humble and respectful towards others, whether they were younger than me or as old as my grandmother.
I can recall a time when my uncle had sent me somewhere and I refused to do what he asked me to. I do not know how many cultures consider that disrespectful, but in Oshiwambo tradition, it is totally unacceptable and disrespectful to refuse when your elders ask you to do something or to back chat. When my father got home from work and heard what had happened, he did not spare the rod.
He whipped me with his leather belt and to this day, I think twice before saying no and back chatting.
Anyway, from a young age my father encouraged me to treat everyone as an equal and throughout my life, I have tried to treat everyone as family, and the elders as I would treat my own parents. But as I grew older, some lessons and customs started fading away. I started to see all the ill in our societies; our elders have stopped teaching, the youngsters stopped listening, alcohol took over both young and old, and people pass by each other without greeting or asking how their neighbour is doing.
I grew up in a small town and was unexposed to the real world when I moved to Windhoek a few years ago. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.
When I first came here, I would greet people who I met in the streets and my neighbours cheerfully. When I saw my younger brother’s friends on the streets late at night, I’d urge them to go home. I would get into a taxi and greet everyone; if someone asked me for a dollar, I would give it to them. If a ball is kicked to where I was walking in the street, I’d kick it back and the children would be fascinated by seeing a girl kicking a ball. Its those little things that makes one want to be a good example to the little ones, because amongst those children, there could be a girl that wants to kick a ball and might just become a female football star some day.
As time went by, I realised neighbours do not give a damn if all is well next door. I remember a time when I’d walk over to greet my neighbours and the person outside will rush inside the house and close the door, so I stopped greeting. Passengers in taxis are not interested in conservations with strangers. They put their headphones on and would stare outside the window if you try and start a conversation and the ones who greet back, do so so softly you can barely hear. These days, children know that they do not have to listen to anybody that is not their mother or father.
It is a shame to see what our communities have become. Namibia is known as a country with a rich cultural diversity and warm and friendly inhabitants. I am uncertain about how much longer we can keep that title.