Namibia: Time to Address Moral Decay

The horrendous video of a 19-year-old beating her 70-year-old grandmother is a microcosm of so much that is wrong with our society.

Teresia Ndalila Mweshininga was arrested after a video of her assaulting her grandmother at their Oshuungu homestead started trending on social media.

The accused, facing a charge of assault and contravening the Gender-Based Violence Act, has been granted bail of N$500 by an Oshakati magistrate, who ordered her to relocate from Oshuungu.

When did we become this video-recording, cackling crowd who stand around while an old woman is being humiliated and physically hurt? Not so long ago, lifting your hand to your grandmother would have been unthinkable.

The fact that the son of the victim and the father of the accused is the one who was recording the vile video is not just nauseating, it is alarming. Fathers and sons traditionally protect, look after and provide security.

Even if you don’t agree with traditional gender or family roles, you would agree that any decent human being would rush to the defence of the grandmother, and not concentrate on recording a video of your own mother being assaulted.

The view our society takes on the abuse and humiliation of those considered most vulnerable often reveals itself in seemingly innocuous, more benign incidences.

These more cut and dry horrendous incidences come about from repeated verbal, mental and emotional violence. Far too often, those benign instances are written off as harmless jokes when what they mask and ultimately reveal is the horrific way we view women, children and the elderly and their right to dignity.

We may insist that laughing is far from physical or even emotional abuse, but it is the lack of consternation in those instances that ultimately enables and indeed empowers this level of violence.

This outrageous incident occurred because of a decline in morality and ethical behaviour. Moral decay is often blamed on mass media, peer pressure and poor family involvement.

This family, just like the entire Namibia, should have a sit-down and find a way to heal. Namibia is an ailing society with disturbing levels of indiscipline, violence, rape, assault and fraud.

Gender-based violence and the disintegration of families have for some time been front and centre in the media. The church, for so long the beacon of morals and ethics, has instead relegated itself to selling magic tricks and conning its clients.

Recently, so-called churches have been closed during a police operation in the North because of irregular activities on their premises. It is time for moral regeneration. However, we need to look to ourselves to improve. We need to be kinder to ourselves and each other, and make an effort to not resort to violence.

To address the moral decay we currently face requires more introspection and self-critique than perhaps we are willing to do. Viral videos and content where basic human dignity is trampled upon are a dime a dozen.

When our first reaction is to laugh, to reshare and not to condemn in those lesser moments, we bear just as much responsibility. To truly rid our society of these ills, we must address the attitudes in ourselves that allow these ills to grow and fester, and become the social evils we now face.

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