Mandatory ‘National Prayer’ Day in Namibia

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Discussion by: knox.shikongo

Namibia (my home country) recently ordered a MANDATORY national prayer day (prayer against a surge in passion killings). Stores were forced to close for an hour, and employers were instructed to allow employees to attend the prayer session at a local football stadium. The police enforced all of this. 

The most disgusting thing is that there was absolutely no condemnation of these acts, and those that failed to attend were labeled Satanists etc. by the general public. Namibia is very stable (politically, socially and economically) and I was very shocked to see this happening in my home. What’s your take on this guys? What would you have done as a person of reason? 

8 COMMENTS

  1. I see it as a confession of failure. The ruling eilte does not understand the reasons behind the violence in Namibian society. Namibia is still a war zone, where the rich fight against the poor. Reference to God is the easiest way to turn away from responsibility. This is exactly in the line with the Stalinist mindset of former president Nujoma, who “wants to bury the perpetrators alive”. Namibia is not “very stable”, it is a ticking time bomb and government is not willing to change anything and uses religion to daze people. They know how to handle superstitious, gullible Africans.

    • Agreed. Although, having lived in Namibia for my whole life, I think to describe it as a ‘war-zone’ or ‘ticking time-bomb’ is a gross exaggeration. Namibia definitely has its problems, but non so prevalent to label the country as a war-zone. Not by a long shot. Prevalence of AIDS has decreased dramatically, freedom of press is amongst the highest on the continent, primary schooling is now free (albeit of low quality) and secondary education will be free in 2016. The main problems are income inequality and unemployment, both of which have been improving, but nonetheless, improvements have been too slow on this front. But in general its a stable, developing country.

      Adding to what you said, I also believe the government is using this superstitious nonsense to gain public approval and maintain its overwhelming support. In a country where more than 95% of inhabitants hold theistic beliefs it makes sense for the government to capitalise on their gullibility and divert attention from real, hard-to-implement, solutions. Its definitely a confession of failure. Its actually very sad that atheists like myself have very little influence so as to ensure that the government adheres to the secular constitution of the country. Lets hope this religious poison doesn’t become as toxic as the one that prevails in Uganda (now that’s a war zone). In reply to #1 by afrobright:

      I see it as a confession of failure. The ruling eilte does not understand the reasons behind the violence in Namibian society. Namibia is still a war zone, where the rich fight against the poor. Reference to God is the easiest way to turn away from responsibility. This is exactly in the line with th…

  2. @knox: I admit it’s hard to grasp the accusation of ‘war zone’ in an African context. But it shows one parallel to religion. You love your fatherland (better than not). Patriotism is the faith of politics. In Namibia religion is the blueprint of politics, with a saviour and a church (SWAPO) and the faithful (voters) and the liturgy of a “stable” environment. Namibia is as stable as the Soviet Union (or any one party state) was. You can trust your Owambo Messiah as much as Jesus on the paradise.

    • I understand your argument, but you seem to be a bit misinformed about Namibia as a whole. Looking from the outside, yes, Namibia can be regarded as a one party state because of SWAPO’s overwhelming support. Nonetheless, Namibia is undisputedly a democratic country and all its leaders have been elected through a transparent, democratic process. Maybe its hard to grasp the concept of a party that seems to have a single hand on governance; but one cannot negate the historical context behind this phenomenon. There is more to it than blind faith and blind patriotism. Take South Africa for example. Support for the ANC is definitely ‘faith-based’, I say this because over the years service delivery in ANC led provinces has declined, and corruption within government circles is on the rise. In addition to that, the official opposition party has led the Western Cape Province to new heights, and have had a much better track record with regards to corruption and service delivery. Its obvious that the ANC are simply not on par with the DA, yet people continue to support the ANC simply because of the role they played in the struggle for democracy. That’s blind faith.

      I’m not implying that support for SWAPO is justified simply because they aren’t as bad as the ANC, I’m simply highlighting the idea that the two parties share a similar history (fighting against apartheid rule) and therefore, both share a similar support base i.e individuals who support the party simply based on the parties role in fighting apartheid, and not on their ability to govern their respective countries (I’d like to emphasise that I do not support SWAPO simply because of their role in fighting apartheid). The difference between SWAPO and ANC is that, there is simply no DA-like opposition party in Namibia. The two main Namibian opposition parties are consistently having squabbles amongst its leaders, and most of the fringe parties are tribally-motivated. In addition to that, the parties which are not tribally-motivated are offshoots from SWAPO. These offshoots are usually not as a result of ideological differences, but mainly because the founders of these parties where unable to be elected into top SWAPO positions and formed these parties out of sheer frustration. Of course, this is not always the case, but it is in about 90% of these situations. If the opposition parties simply settled the infighting amongst its members, articulated how they differ from SWAPO, and articulated how they plan to advance the country, then open minded-supporters would vote for them in a heartbeat. Until they do this, you’d simply be voting for a less-stable, less-transparent version of SWAPO. We could argue that there is a SWAPO-led conspiracy to silence all of these parties and destabilise them, but until such evidence is presented, it would be foolish to simply assert such claims.

      I must admit. Its a bit frustrating that so many individuals seem to have condescending, stereotypical ideas about the majority of Africans for no reason whatsoever. No matter how much you argue, they simply see Africans as brainwashed, blind followers of their ‘masters’ in government. They simply cannot believe that we too have access to news and information, and many seem to think we all are ignorant of current affairs in the world. There is no Owambo messiah, the majority of us do not simply bow down and worship politicians. We also don’t dance around camp fires and offer our livestock to him and the gods. And referring to an individual simply by his tribe, never mind messiah, is simply inappropriate. Tribalist viewpoints are frowned upon in Namibian society, just like they are in Europe and the States. The majority of Namibians are Owambo, so of course, basic laws of probability will suggest that a large number of our leaders are, and will be Owambo. In fact, the next SWAPO presidential nominee is actually from the (minority) Damara tribe, but then again, only ignorant people still see individuals for their tribe and not their character. I guess its normal for an American to support the Republican party for its ideals and ideologies, but as soon as an African supports an entity for the same reasons, he’s just ‘another gullible idiot, who knows no better than his primitive leaders’. I understand the parallel between religion and Namibian politics, but the foundation of your argument is simply conjecture. i.e. “I view Namibian politics in this way simply because I choose to. It may be hard for you to grasp the concept, but my opinion is superior to yours despite the fact that I have no evidence to back it up”. I know it seems absurd that an African country can be described as stable, and when it is, then its even harder not to simply assert that this ignorant African is just under the impression that it is stable.

      Where is your evidence to relate the stability of the One party, media suppressing, citizen-purging, propaganda-spewing, communist and human right infringing Soviet Union; to a multiparty, Democratic, human right-protecting, capitalist state (Namibia)? How could you possibly make that comparison? Again, I emphasise, the Namibian government, like every government on this planet, has made disgusting decisions; Namibian politicians, like many politicians (In the States and Europe as well), have made inappropriate statements, but where is the evidence to suggest that Namibia is even remotely similar to the Soviet Union? No state is perfect, but this tendency to over-exagerate the environment of African countries, simply because they are in Africa and led by Africans seems very faith-based if you ask me.

           *In reply to [#4](#comment-box-4') by afrobright:*
      

      @knox: I admit it’s hard to grasp the accusation of ‘war zone’ in an African context. But it shows one parallel to religion. You love your fatherland (better than not). Patriotism is the faith of politics. In Namibia religion is the blueprint of politics, with a saviour and a church (SWAPO) and the…

  3. I know zilch about the political situation in Namiiba so can’t really offer an opinon as such, yet feel compelled to offer at the very least some expression of solidarity, worthless tho that may be in itself.

    As to what I would have done as a ‘person of reason’, again, it would be too easy to pontificate, one needs to be in a situation to know what one would do, what you describe is just too far from the experience of living in a democracy to be able to conjure up some s’solution’, I guess what I would have done, is go along with it. Probaby cowardly, but in the interest of truth I doubt I would have made a stand.

    Growing up in the /uk we ‘had’ to attend daily assembly in school which included prayers, much as some teachers/authorities might have liked, no-one can actually be forced to pray in any meaningful way, we can be forced to stand and mumble incoherently while wondering at what a complete waste of time it was.

    From your ealier reply to a comment, it looks as if things are improving in Namibia, albeit slowly, I guess eventually an educative system could have the effect of producing people who will think for themselves, although of course it may produce a system where the status quo is just more surrepticiously reinforced.

    How available is internet access in your country? Maybe when the whole world has accessible internet and relatively free availability of access to thought and information the world will slowly change…

    Probably not in our lifetime, so your questions are: Should I stay? Can I leave? Do I want to leave?

    No-one can legislate the contents of our minds, no matter how much they may try :)

    Best wishes!

    • I may have been to swift to jump the gun when I typed this post. I must emphasise that I wasn’t actually there on the day (I’m attending University in South Africa), and I stand corrected on the details of what had actually happened. I recently found out that the police had only enforced the closure of liquor stores, nonetheless, the incident itself was unconstitutional and undemocratic and this information doesn’t make it any less disgusting… Like you, I took the cowardly route and decided not to take a stand against it. Not because I feared being arrested, but because I feared that I’d suffer verbal abuse similar to the abuse suffered by atheists who refuse mandatory prayer at schools in the States etc.

      In response to your questions; Internet access is widely available, but I strongly believe that the problem lies in our education system. Thank goodness that, in accordance with the constitution, our public schools are without religious teachings, but I was unfortunate enough to attend a religious school and I can relate to your experience.

      I’m really proud of my country, we are doing fairly well on many fronts. The large population of immigrants is probably a testament to that. But there’s still a long way to go, and I hope to stay here and play a part in making a change. Lets hope there aren’t any more incidents like these.

      Thanks for your input, greatly appreciated. In reply to #5 by TheGap:

      I know zilch about the political situation in Namiiba so can’t really offer an opinon as such, yet feel compelled to offer at the very least some expression of solidarity, worthless tho that may be in itself.

      As to what I would have done as a ‘person of reason’, again, it would be too easy to ponti…

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