Evidenced by the public outpour throughout the country, Dr Abraham Iyambo, the late Minister of Education, was a much beloved Namibian public figure.The positive remarks and songs of praises are well deserved because he gave Namibians something that many of our leaders all over the world have either robbed us of, do not value or do not know how to give. Dr. Iyambo gave us Hope.
Hope is a powerful thing. We need only to look at what happened in the United States, when an unlikely candidate with the campaign tag of HOPE was elected president of the United States in 2008. He was lauded globally and awarded a noble peace prize not really because of his accomplishment but because of the hope he brought. Hope is a powerful thing and on 2nd February 2013, the death Dr. Iyambo while in Europe, shook the fragile hope of many in his native land an ocean away.
Much has been written and spoken about the ministry of education (MOE) in Namibia; regardless of the feelings that one has of past ministers from Mr. Nahas Angula to now the late Dr. Iyambo, what should not be lost in the narrative is the fact that MOE is charged with taking an education system that before independence was designed to produce people for servitude to now being charged with producing people who convert vision 2030 to a reality. This is an arduous task that Dr. Iyambo by all account performed superbly. Year after year of students failing, left most of us dejected and resigned even though we knew that something needed to change. His actions as minister – such as convening an education congress, picking up garbage in disguise while investigating teacher attendance, giving students encouragement during exam periods made many believe that our challenges are surmountable. However, if we are to honour his memory, his hard work, and determination, we must pause, reflect, and ask many questions about his death in relation to the larger Republic especially with regards to education. Most of all, we must pause and address the issue of Namibia Cynicism.
Cynicism is the antithesis of hope. It is understandable that the excitement of 21 March 1990 has abated but it is sad that it has been replaced by a sense of surrender to circumstances. The oh well, thats just how it is mentality has permeated nearly all facets of Namibian society and to a large extent much of the Afrikan continent as reflected in the TIA (This Is Africa) – mentality. This inexcusable and morally reprehensible. Those whose blood waters our freedom deserve better, and future generations from whom we borrowed today, expect better.
Namibia lost a reformer in Dr. Iyambo; however, death of a reformer does not have to mean death of reform nor does his death mean the death of hope in our education system. So as we celebrate the life of an accomplished Namibian, this occasion should also lead us to have some conversations that often are missing in the national discourse: conversations about hope, hard work, merit, service delivery and accountability throughout our society.