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Namibian Bishop Warns Against Violence, Calls for Tolerance and Patience

A Namibian bishop says his country is currently experiencing a culture of brutal violence that all citizens should be ashamed of. He’s calling for tolerance and patience.

Bishop Zephania Kameeta of the Evangelical Lutheran Church first issued the warning at a recent cultural festival in the capital, Windhoek. He tells VOA that with a population of only about two million, Namibia has a high crime rate.

“Each day you will hear somebody has been shot dead. Somebody has been stabbed. Somebody has committed suicide. We had a situation where a serial killer was going around killing especially women. Two or three women were cut into pieces. And that’s what prompted me to say Namibia looks like a butchery. It’s a very serious situation, which needs serious attention of each and every body,” he says.

He says 17 years after independence, too many people dwell on the country’s apartheid past and use it as an excuse for today’s behavior.

“We too much concentrate on the past. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’ve been doing that myself. That was wrong. Slavery was wrong. Apartheid was wrong. Colonialism was wrong. But we have also to focus on today. What are we doing to address the evils in our midst? And most of the evil deeds are not committed by colonialists, imperialists and racists of the past. These deeds are committed by ourselves,” he says.

Bishop Kameeta says this is an issue that should be addressed not only by Namibia, but also by all African countries.

In the address at the cultural festival held by the Polytechnic of Namibia, he told hundreds of students “to hold hands and listen more to each other.”

“We have forgotten the ideals of the liberation spirit before liberation. At that time we held hands against the one enemy – apartheid, racism, colonialism. There was solidarity. There was togetherness. After independence, when this common enemy has disappeared, solidarity has also at the same time disappeared. And so unity and togetherness,” he says.

The Evangelical Lutheran bishop says many of the young people in Namibia don’t remember the days of apartheid and colonialism. But while he disagrees with dwelling on the past too much, he says it’s important to understand it.

“Time and again when you read the books of the Old Testament, especially the five books together with the prophets, it is repeated time and again, remember, you were slaves in Egypt. Remember, you were slaves in Egypt. You will find it in the psalms, in the prophets and all over. It’s important to remember the past. And the one good reason for that is so that we must not repeat the bad things, which were done in the past. But we must not forget today also while remembering the past,” he says.

Bishop Kameeta calls on young people to have “unity in diversity,” adding “to be ethnically exclusive is wrong and unacceptable.” He says what young people accomplish today will one day become their past, something others will judge them on. He says Namibians need to look into each other’s hearts and act with tolerance and patience.