Smaller is Stronger

This blog has been inactive for a while now and with good reason. Although we have been ‘quarantined’ from most of the terrible effects of the coronavirus pandemic here in Namibia to a large degree, one thing we haven’t been spared is the toxic tsunami of ignorant or mischievous commentary, some of it point-blank lethal, that’s overtaken the Internet. I’d no desire to add to this pointless accumulation of speculation and anecdata and preferred to keep schtum until I had something useful and fact-based to say. Vent over…

My belief – admittedly an unpopular one in many Namibian quarters – is that the CDC and the Government of the Republic of Namibia exhibited admirable leadership in reacting hard and fast to the threat of Covid-19. I’m very happy to acknowledge that here and express my personal thanks. It has been a really, really tough time at the household level for many disadvantaged citizens, not to mention ethical business people struggling to make ‘best worst’ decisions that will allow their operations to remain afloat. But no one has died from the virus to date – I really think that’s worth emphasising – and no one will die from the longer-term consequences of the business shutdown if we take a moment to look at how our economy needs to be diversified and localised.

The day it was announced that Namibians would have to wear face masks in public, a veritable army of home-producers swung into action, including the women of the ‘Sew Good’ project. Not to be snarky but I hope that the international pharmacy chains charging exorbitant prices for environmentally unfriendly disposable masks took a massive hit as people took up the challenge of ‘local is lekker’.

As restrictions are eased, I’m optimistic that the national sense of community engendered by the crisis will not turn out to have just been a temporary blip, but will translate into a desire to resuscitate the economy in every way we can…and certainly this should mean that, wherever possible, people support local producers rather than pivoting back to the default setting of purchasing goods (especially ones with sketchy ‘green’ credentials) manufactured abroad, with all this means in terms of reducing the environmental damage caused by long-haul transportation.

The bags produced by the ‘Sew Good’ craftswomen just get more and more stunning

Of course, ‘Sew Good’ wasn’t able to distribute and sell its products during the lockdown, and our hopes of creating a sustainable market through sales to tourists were set back somewhat. Nevertheless, the ladies have certainly not been idle and we are accumulating shopping bags and tote bags for sale once circumstances allow.