Give Doëseb His Flowers

Axali Doëseb

The debate about who composed Namibia’s national anthem is a frivolous attempt to hijack the limelight from Axali Doëseb, who has legally been credited for the tune since 1991.

The latest arguments were triggered by a contradiction from the Presidency.

Making unsolicited remarks at the Annual Damara Festival (which had no relation to the anthem) last weekend, minister in the Presidency Christine //Hoebes claimed Doëseb contributed only the melody.

Presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari has rebuffed her remarks.

“The composer and author of the national anthem is Axali Doëseb. There is no dispute about that,” he has said.

In what can be described as disrespectful and denigrating of Doëseb’s expertise, political commentator Joseph Diescho added fuel to the fire, arguing that the accomplished composer did not have the intellectual gravitas to pen the wording of ‘Land of the Brave’.

It is unclear what individuals like //Hoebes and Diescho hope to achieve by discrediting or diminishing Doëseb’s role, especially now that he can’t respond.

In 2006, the late Swapo politician and minister Hidipo Hamutenya claimed he wrote the lyrics of the national anthem on a plane to Cuba.

For his part, Doëseb has put it on record that he travelled across Namibia, meeting people from all walks of life, asking what they would like to hear in their national anthem.

Arguments that Doëseb did not have liberation credentials to write such lyrics are neither here nor there.

Many ordinary people have made intellectual, physical and philosophical contributions to Namibia’s liberation and nation building.

Big name liberation leaders have no monopoly on crafting the discourse.

In fact, politicians have a tendency of hunting for glory for their own sake. This leaves the true heroes unrecognised and underappreciated.

Namibians could not have picked a worse time than Doëseb’s death to engage in a pointless debate about who contributed what to the national anthem, when Doëseb was the undisputed leading composer.

Let’s celebrate a national hero and give him a respectful send-off.

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