Amidst tensions between the state and religious groups regarding legalisation of abortion, the Namibia Institute for democracy (NID) and Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), together with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) seized an opportunity to educate Christian youth about their role in a democratic Namibia. About 20 youth group members from various churches in Otjiwarongo gathered at the ELCIN Otjiwarongo church hall to attend the Civic Education Programme from 7 July to 9 July 2020.
The programme aimed to educate participants on the principles of democracy, which include the rule of law, the three branches of the Namibian government, and the elections. Additionally, the workshop also aimed to teach participants the power that comes with knowing one’s rights and responsibilities, and how to advocate for them. The third lesson intended to highlight the role that the church, and its youth, can play in democracy.
The programme consisted of various teaching methods. Participants discussed and presented on themes of democracy, fundamental human rights, and transparency within government. Through these means, they learned the importance of civic involvement and accountability in achieving a just society. Physical activities, such as the ‘protect your dignity’ challenge, also conveyed important lessons. Participants were each given an inflated balloon, which represents their dignity, and a pin, and were told to protect their dignity. Several participants proceeded to pop each other’s ‘dignity’. Participants later realised that if they had all stood still and had not tried to pop the other’s ‘dignity’, all their ‘dignities’ would be intact. This activity taught participants that although we each have our own rights to protect, we also have a responsibility not to infringe on another’s rights.
The role of the church in democracy was also a strong theme throughout the programme. The lack of democracy, accountability and good governance within church structures are counterproductive to a society that strives to achieve these very ideals on a local and national level. For these ideals to be upheld in our daily lives, they need to be upheld in the church, as the church and religion still play a pivotal role in the lives of many Namibians. The church is a meeting point for people from all sectors of society. Therefore, it has a duty to instil morals of fairness and freedom to its congregants, who then go out to serve the community and build a better Namibia. It is up to the youth as the future generation of Christians to encourage these principles of democracy within both within the church and in the society at large.
Witten by: Mouesanao Kandjoze (HSF Intern)