Post 4 | Cheetahs and Democraccy

Reading more and more about Namibia gives me hope that this country is on the rise and since they became a free country in the 90’s. Cheetah’s have been involved in making the country better year after year. A cheetah in Namibia who has helped the democracy in the country is Hiflkepunye Pohamba, he was the second president of Namibia since becoming a free country. He is the winner of the 2014 Mo Ibrahim Prize of governance and leadership. He is the first African man to get this award in the past 6 years. He made the country much stronger democratically and the political climate peaceful. “He is celebrated nationally and internationally”, according to New Era Magazine in Namibia. Since making such a huge impact while being president he is now back to farming and having a normal life

hifikepunye_pohamba_2_crop-1204x887

How does one define democracy?

“Democracy was rare. Few countries met even minimum standards for democracies in terms of protecting fundamental political freedoms and civil liberties, or in establishing key institutions such as free and fair elections, representative government, and checks on executive power.” (Radelet) Democracy is SSA is something that has grown tremendously over the years but still has a way to go. In America we can’t imagine life where democracy is rare.

In the 80’s when democracy started to increase in Africa there were only three countries in SSA that met basic democracy standards. When Nelson Mandela became president in 1994 there was a stronger push for democracy and he is a reason why it has grown since. Democracies have increased from 3 to 23 countries with a basic democracy as of 2008 and will continue to grow from there. With democracy on the rise there are more elections. Naturally when one thinks of democracy, elections are the second thought. There is freedom in voting in what the people want but that is not what makes democracy successful. In Emerging Africa in chapter 3 there is a section about elections and how it makes and doesn’t make a democracy.

“But elections alone do not make democracies. Democracy requires the protection of basic civil liberties and human rights; the establishment of public institutions that are accountable to their citizens and that limits the power of their leaders; and the recognition of rights of freedom of expression, assembly, and the press, among other dimensions.”

This statement makes me ponder the thought of democracy and why it has worked in the United States for so long. What did our early leaders do, to make our country democratic and successful in that aspect. What could the US do to help countries in Africa to make their newer democracy work and to continue to have a free land?

The countries in the SSA are all ranked in a few categories to determine their level of democracy. There is an overall ranking of democracy in the country ranging from 0 being the worst and 100 being the best. There is a category of political rights, civil liberties, and freedom rating; all ranking 1, being most free to 7, being least free. Namibia is ranked with an overall score of 77, political rights: 2, civil liberties: 2, and freedom rating: 2. Namibia is a free country and they have good scores comparatively to other countries in the SSA. I honestly was pretty shocked and happy that they had such a great score.

Education is a challenge. What do you see that works or does not work in Namibia?

Namibia is a country who gives education to “all” and that means that they offer a primary eduction to students but when they are older they have to pay for a high school type education. I think that it is great that they even offer a free education to those young and in primary school but I think of if that is enough? If I would have stopped going to school after 6th grade I would not be able to make it very far in this world. Most children in Namibia won’t go to school past primary school because either their parents cannot afford to send them or they do not value education enough to pay to send their children to school. Recently I talked to a friend of mine who is from South Africa, a neighboring country of Namibia. I asked him what school was like for children there and he said he knew quite a few family friends who lived there and that they either learned by working or a parent would volunteer to teach at the school. The teachers were not qualified, they were just parents who offered to help out. He also said that the schools were in poor condition and that there were few books available to the students. He was fortunate enough to have a proper education in just one country over and was able to come to the US to further his education. He does value the education he has but he doesn’t act like he feels badly for others that don’t have that education. He grew up knowing how poor that Namibians lived and how little they had and that is just how things were. From my point of view I see it as such an extreme difference from my life and how I grew up that it makes me terribly sad for those people. With my South African friend, he just sees it as normal life for those people living there. Im not sure if that could be why countries in the SSA are further behind but it makes me think that, that mindset could keep them at a slower growth.

Sources:

“Namibia: An African Success Story.” New Era Newspaper Namibia. New Era Publication Corporation, 26 Mar. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

Steven Radelet Emerging Africa – How 17 Countries are Leading the Way (on Bb-                                 SDG&Africa-Africa): read Foreword, Chapter One and Chapter Three

Banerjee, Abhijit V., and Esther Duflo. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. New York: PublicAffairs, 2012. Print.

“Education in Namibia.” Personal interview. 12 Feb. 2017.

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