From Tjiueza Tjombumbi
WE STILL bask in the glamor of our athletes who did so heroically at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
We have really put Namibia on the sporting map as a force to be reckoned with. Not only Mboma and Masilingi made us proud, but also the Paralympians who recently returned from the Tokyo Paralympic Games and showed what we as Namibians are capable of.
From Ananias Shikongono, Johannes Nambala and Sem Shimanda to Johanna Benson, who has been winning for us for many years, we as a nation are proud of their athletic achievements.
Then I thought: Why don’t these sporting achievements resonate in our everyday lives? Where do these athletes stand in the workplace, how do they manage their jobs and careers in everyday life?
Why don’t people with disabilities seem to be part of our employees’ daily lives?
This question raises many concerns and, if left unaddressed, we will never achieve Vision 2030 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).
We can’t celebrate our para-athletes one day and not let them shine in their careers the next day – simply because there is no wheelchair access, no computer or online access for the visually impaired, or sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired.
With more than 100,000 Namibians with various types of disabilities, it is a very large segment of the population that should be ignored.
If we look at the drivers of the UN SDGs and the principle of leaving no one behind, we must create equal opportunities for all.
The three UN SDGs that focus on are: 1: No Poverty, 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, and 10: Reducing Inequalities.
We need to address these goals and ensure that we can create an inclusive society that drives our economy and encompasses all and their differences in order to become part of it.
If we all pull together and do not achieve the ambitious goals that Namibia has set itself together, we will fail.
Just as Paralympians use guides when conducting races and other sports codes as a team, we need to internalize, live, and breathe the concept of working together towards the same goal.
The coaches, staff and families of the athletes and our athletic heroes all form a team that together is a winning combination.
If we apply this mentality, attitude and driving force to achieve the UN SDGs, our Vision 2030 and the UN Disability Rights Convention, then we are really on the road to success.
It is crucial that various disability services are adequately funded to achieve their goals and achieve excellence.
At the moment Namibia is full of pride, the athletes and the public feel they are among the best in the world.
However, in order to capture this positive mood and fundamentally underpin our success, we have to face challenges directly.
If we don’t allow people to get involved and contribute to the economy, we will never achieve our goals.
If Namibians don’t live and breathe the motto of not excluding anyone, we will never reach the size our athletes are.
We should be united in our goals, achievements celebrated collectively, and our failures as a nation wiped away and forgotten.
Only through perseverance can we achieve lasting success and win as a team.
* Tjiueza Tjombumbi is Head of Department at the National Disability Council of Namibia.