We need to understand that culture is a construct of the mind and history is not destiny.
When a child is born it does not know whether it is a boy or a girl, is Western, Eastern, Asian, American, English, Nama, French or San.
If we were born in Berseba or Oshikango it would not exclude us ending our life as a Portuguese in Almeida. It depends on the social-cultural values of the environment we get raised in.
As we grow up our social and cultural environment teaches us to wear dresses or herd cattle, speak Hindi or Oshingandera. We soon experience that some skin pigments burn easier in the sun than others, and we may learn from our parents, elders and peers that the shade of skin in people facilitates the “us” vs ”them” construct. The “good” vs “ bad” the “east” vs “west” and the “black” vs “white”, the “superior” vs “inferior”.
So where does the “West” begin and where does the “Good” end?
This is the root of prejudice. This means that we learn to judge and frame before we know. Racism is prejudice. Racism is a construct of the mind. Culture is a construct of the mind. Our adopted behavior therefore is our choice. Our responsibility.
Fortunately it is this exact choice which provides us with the solution. We as Namibians have a choice to either allow prejudice to determine our national culture or not. By adopting a critical mindset and speaking out against prejudice, any form of prejudice, we are addressing the problem to understand the problem in order to solve the problem.
We know that hatred and intolerance of other races is neither a Namibian ideal nor aspiration. The idea that one’s own culture or ethnicity is superior and has the right to dominate others, or that a particular cultural group is inferior is fortunately
not a mainstream frame of reference in Namibia either.
Most would agree that racial prejudice, and any other form of prejudice, is not limited nor practiced by only one ethnicity or race in this country.
Divisional, prejuduced thinking, veiled or implicit, is just what it is. Thinking, an Idea, a construct in the mind. It needs to be understood as that and can be stopped.
It shall be adressed constructively and openly as we do here, and if need be with the backing of our legal system.
Therefore, let us bring the discussion out into the open. Let us reframe our prejudiced minds towards peace, unity and mindfulness. Teach the ignorant of better and if need be let us apply our law against the one’s not willing to unlearn through reason and open discussion.
We cannot lull ourselves into accepting and prejudice, hate speech nor violence in our Namibia. We cannot afford it and we deserve better.
Culture as well as prejudice is a construct of the mind. It is learnt behavior which we can unlearn because history is not our destiny.