Namibians turn to creative ways to observe Heroes’ Day amid COVID-19 outbreak

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A physiotherapist sits at a workstation in an Intensive Care ward treating COVID-19 patients at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, Britain, May 22, 2020. Picture taken May 22, 2020. Steve Parsons/Pool via REUTERS
A physiotherapist sits at a workstation in an Intensive Care ward treating COVID-19 patients at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, Britain, May 22, 2020. Picture taken May 22, 2020. Steve Parsons/Pool via REUTERS

By Ndalimpinga Iita

Namibians across the country on Wednesday embraced ingenious ways to commemorate the Heroes’ Day, a public holiday on the country’s calendar, to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Customarily, the Heroes’ Day, held in honor of the liberation struggle, was commemorated by colossal gathering. But the Namibian government on Aug. 12 suspended the hosting of public gatherings as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19. Following the ban of gatherings of more than ten people, locals resorted to creative ways to observe the day.

Naka David visited the Independence Museum in the capital Windhoek.

According to David, there is a section in the museum dedicated to the liberation struggle and an exhibition portraying the events of Aug. 26, 1966.

“Since there is no mass gathering, visiting the museum is my way of commemorating and honoring those who sacrificed much for the independence we enjoy today,” David said Wednesday.

Visiting the museum also presented her with the opportunity to appreciate the country’s heritage. “But also to be reminded about the significance of Heroes’ Day,” she said.

She is not the only one. Elia Simon turned to music, listening to songs of the liberation struggle by popular local band Ndilimani, renowned artist Ras Sheehama and the late Jackson Kaujeuja, amongst others.

“Music has a way of capturing history. I am not only learning a lot but also appeased as most songs are themed around reconciliation, peace, and unity,” said Simon.

According to the Windhoek dweller, observing the day from home with family was complemented by food and spirit of unity.

Furthermore, young people turned to social media to observe the day. Virtual actions included the posting of pictures taken while visiting the museum and listening to liberation struggle-themed songs.

Others also posted photos of them visiting the memorial site at Omugulu-Gombashe, where the commemorative public gathering is usually hosted by the Namibian government to honor the fallen heroes.

Another Windhoek resident, Joel Pohamba, wore clothing items branded with the liberation heroes.

Meanwhile, in rural areas, freedom fighters also shared their experiences around the traditional fire and radio. Silas Abner, a freedom fighter from the northern Oshikoto region, shared his experiences in the local media.

The alternative ways of observing the day helped dwellers take precautions and adhere to health and stringent measures in place against COVID-19.

Namibian President Hage Geingob said that the day is an important national event commemorated by all Namibians.

“We reflect on those distinguished patriots whose bravery, foresight and love of the country have left an indelible mark on the legacy of Namibia,” he said.

Geingob also paid tribute to the health sector’s frontline workers as the country battles COVID-19.
In the interim, as the country battles again COVID-19, the president urged citizens to unite and shun ignorance.

“Let us hold hands and share our knowledge and continue to aspire despite tragedies to become emancipated and build a better world free of poverty and disease,” Geingob said.

So far, Namibia has recorded 6,431 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 2,734 recoveries, and 59 deaths.

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