Many years ago I was asked, “Who are you?” This was before Independence and I understood my credentials were being questioned. My reply was, “First, I am a human being, and secondly I am a Namibian. Last, and least important, I am coloured”.
Now I am 40 and take the time to sit back and look back at the mileposts during my life. It is also the time to look forward to the end of my days, and consider where I have gone wrong, and perhaps where I have made a meaningful difference. It is most definitely like sitting in an armchair and contemplating “in order to understand itself and mentally grasp its own activity, that of the mind.” After all, “to be able to look back upon ones life in satisfaction is to live twice.”
So in this last chapter I must also address mistakes that I have made in my feeble attempts at contributing to the nationhood of our beloved land. I have thought it unimportant where my family comes from, what their cultures and beliefs were, and often thought these were to be considered and ultimately rejected as part of their living in a past dominated by the racial classification given by the system of Apartheid.
Who I am is not dictated by our external environment, but rather by the internal. As humans we tend to blame our culture, society, government, employers and even our own families for things that goes wrong, but rarely give them credit for “our” achievements.
As time has passed I have gone from reading science fiction to more biographies on the historical figures in our history. (Imagine my surprise when I found out that Benjamin Franklin had already added a thought for the month in his “Poor Richard’s Almanac, and written advice to a newly establishing tradesman.☺)
Reading through these biographies, and accessing their quotes has made a dramatic impact on my life. Throughout my book, Smile My beloved Land, I have often put forward an argument to find that a similar proposal has been done by great men before me. I was not the first, and hopefully not the last, to have these great expectations form the human race.
Lastly, I address myself to the words of Albert Einstein, “He who cherishes the values of culture cannot fail to be a pacifist.”