All ProtocolObserved Se Moer!

Photo: Contributed.

Let’s face it, Namibians and official events have a complicated relationship.

It’s like a bizarre dance where everyone pretends to know the steps, but ends up tripping over themselves. And the biggest culprit in this laughable routine is the never-ending recital of names masquerading as ‘protocol observed’.

The Standing Ovation Charade:

We’ve all been there. The hushed tones, the rustling of programmes, then a voice booming over the PA system like a scared springbok: “It is the honourable minister! Please stand!”

And up we go, obedient lambs following the harsh commands of a low-ranking functionary. Don’t get me wrong, respect is due, but this orchestrated rise wouldn’t win an Oscar for genuine respect.

The Name-Dropping Marathon:

Then comes the real test of endurance: the Namibian National Name-Dropping Championship. The speaker, hanging behind the podium like a game show host, unfolds a scroll seemingly longer than the Fish River Canyon. Page after glorious page unfolds, each name pronounced with the solemnity of a Joseph Molapong poem.

“Esteemed guests, distinguished colleagues,” they sing, “we acknowledge the presence of his excellency, the …” and on it goes.

Mayors (present and mysteriously “in abstention”), department directors, cleaners and the waiter who brought the malva pudding. Everyone gets a mention.

By the time we reach the 27th name, a collective sweat starts to bead on our brows. Is this some bizarre endurance test?

Are we training for the next Olympic sport, name-reciting relay? It’s a relay because speaker after speaker will sing the same song with names from A to Z.

The Absentee Mayor Debacle:

And then, it happens. The speaker reaches a particularly dramatic pause.

“We would also like to acknowledge,” then boom, “the presence of the esteemed mayor of Keetmanshoop … in abstention!”. No wait, they actually use the phrase “in absentia”.

We, the dutiful audience, look around like meerkats on high alert. Empty chair. Confused coughs. Then, the slow burn of outrage.

How, in the name of all that is holy, do you acknowledge someone’s presence when they are clearly absent? Is this some next-level gesigkopery?

Is this some form of psychic guest recognition?

The Protocol Paradox:

Finally, after what feels like an eternity, the name-dropping extravaganza reaches its climax. The speaker says the one thing they could have just said at the start, “all protocol observed”.

Hold on a second there, my friend. What protocols exactly? Was there a secret rule dictating the mandatory inclusion of every remotely important (or unimportant) person within a 50-kilometre radius?

Is that the protocol you just wasted a whole nation’s time on?

The Real Protocol:

Here’s the truth, folks. Protocol is about respect, sure, but it’s also about efficiency. It’s about understanding the importance of the occasion and the time constraints of everyone involved.

A real show of respect would be to acknowledge the dignitaries present, perhaps the event organisers, and then get on with the speech!

The Journalist’s Lament:

Because let’s be honest, by the time the speaker reaches their ‘main address’, the journalists are already contemplating early retirement at Witvlei.

Thirty minutes of name-dropping has sucked the life out of the room, leaving only the faint echo of unanswered questions.

Did the speaker actually say anything newsworthy? Did they justify their hefty infamous S&T with anything more than hot air?

The answer, my friends, is a resounding “probably not”.

The only news you’d likely find is the sanitised version reported by the ever-reliable NBC: “The director general of Such-and-Such stated …” Yawn.

The Call to Action:

So, Namibians, let’s raise a collective glass (of locally brewed Windhoek Draught, of course) and declare: “All protocol se moer!”

Let’s ditch the name-dropping sham and embrace a new era of efficient etiquette.

Let the speeches be short, the points be sharp and the information be valuable.

After all, our time, and our tax money, are precious commodities (Namra knows this all too well).

Let’s not waste it on a theatrical display of self-importance.

Let’s get to the real business of making Namibia a better place, one well-delivered speech at a time.

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