Reading his heartfelt feedback, I was sad to note that Cloete did not attend the discussion he was writing about, and unfortunately acted upon second or third version hear-say, which does not advance an informed discourse forward in the spirit that he wishes. I have great sympathy with Cloete in trying to debunk tribalism and the ills that go with it.
First my lecture was an effort to define and describe in historical contexts the phenomena of tribalism, ethnicity, and racism. My starting point was that as Namibians, we do not even understand what these terms mean and where they come from, and that there are no equivalents in African languages for these things that have become major problems in our lives. It appears that Cloete has a very bankrupt understanding of this reality. He exhibits frightening ignorance of the origin of so-called coloured people, which has nothing to do with the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley. The origin of coloured people lies in the miscegenation of different racial groups trying to find home and life in the same locale, even though the white men, who were the original fathers of children of mixed race, tried so hard to preach the doctrine of segregation, forgetting that people really belong only to one race, the human race. For, if it was not the case, ‘different races’ would not have babies together!
Second, my focus was not on the so-called coloured people. My only reference to the coloured group as part of the African family was in pointing out that the first imperialist namers of racial categories did not have coloured people in their categorisation of races as there were no coloured people to worry about.
I made the remark that in the context of southern Africa the people referred to as coloured came into existence at least nine months after the arrival of the first white male settlers. I also pointed out that after we had decimated the original San people in southern Africa, the coloured person is perhaps the most original who has the right to send all of us away to North Africa, Europe, India and Malaysia or elsewhere, and only the coloured will be left behind with the right to consider and process our applications to be readmitted back.
I went on to say that in the schemes of colonial and apartheid thrust on white supremacy, the coloured person was the most afflicted by the lies of white supremacist propaganda which depicted the coloured person to be without identity, without culture, and without traditional authority on the one hand, yet ‘amper-baas’ on the other. This is fact.
This reality led to a falsehood internalised by the majority of coloured people that they are better than their African brothers and sisters. The system of apartheid enforced this in every way possible. If Cloete grew up in Namibia or South Africa, he would be the first to know this.
Apartheid thrived on the fear and avoidance of the other, especially those of the darker hue!
What does Cloete say about the inability with the majority of coloured Namibians who grew up in Namibia to simply distinguish between Otjiherero and Oshiwambo, for instance—languages they had been exposed to all their lives?
This is because, in the main, these languages sound the same, unintelligent to coloured and white people! Fact!
Yes, Cloete is right that there were African survivalists who collaborated with the Europeans at the expense of their brothers and sisters. This collaborationist behaviour is going on unabated, even today when people put expedience and their own safety above principles and what they believe in.
Yes Cloete is right that I did not offer the solution to tribalism. I am an educator and as such am not in a position to prescribe solutions to national matters. What I may do is present scenarios and advance theories for possible solutions. My function is to explain phenomena, how they occur, what they do in our lives, how we understand them and what can be done to improve the human condition. Only elected leaders have the authority and power to solve problems with the resources at their disposal.
I agree with Tate or Meme Cloete that we need to find solutions by having free conversations with one another. No one has the patent on the truth.
Professor Joe Diescho