Perhaps it is just the nature of Namibians, but here there appears to be a
pathalogical aversion to "foreigners" - particularly neighbours who share
the same blood, language and culture as "Namibians" - and regard for
colonial national boundaries appears to be paramount.
Angolans currently bear the brunt of much of this animosity, despite the
fact that tens of thousands of Namibians lived in exile in Angola during
the Namibian libration struggle. But when Angolans cross into Namibia, many
to escape the fighting in their own country which was partly brought on by
the presence of the Namibian liberation movement in Angola during the
struggle, they are shunned and abused. People from southern Angola share
the same culture and language as the majority of northern Namibians; they
are from the same tribe, and families span the border. As a result,
Angolans and Namibians from these areas can cross the border within a
certain distance without permits. And yet "illegal" Angolan imigrants are
constantly being hearded up by the police, while Namibians pour scorn on
Angolans in Namibia over the radio phone-in programmes.
There is now a similar trend developing in the Caprivi, where "illegal"
Zambian immigrants and traders are the targets of police clamp-downs and
talk-show vitriol. Again most south-western Zambians and north-eastern
Namibians are the same people.
Perhaps it is because Namibia has just emerged from a nationalistic
liberation struggle. Perhaps it is the lingering poison of apartheid that
makes people so xenophobic. Perhaps it is a sense of superiority brought on
by the fact that Namibia is a peaceful and relatively well-off place. Who
knows, but it stinks.
Being a boudary-less technology, IT surely has a role to play in breaking
down the artificial borders which divide so many countries?
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Private Bag 13386
Tel. +264 61 232975, Fax. 248016
e-mail: [log in to unmask]