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Head of Geography lends expertise to Houses of Parliament debate

Posted on 22/03/2010

Professor David Simon

Professor David Simon, Head of the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, participated in a public debate on Namibia in the Houses of Parliament on 18 March 2010.

Twenty years after achieving independence from South Africa, Namibia is considered by many as a stable, democratic country, and is one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. However, this event tackled the deep problems and inequalities that still characterise aspects of Namibian life.

The moment of Namibia’s independence was of huge significance for the entire southern African region, showing the weakness of the apartheid regime in South Africa, and proving that it was possible to move to majority rule, as South Africa itself was to do four years later. The debate, chaired by Oona King – Head of Diversity at Channel 4 and a broadcaster, writer and political campaigner as well as former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow 1997-2005 – shed new light on the importance of these geopolitical realities, not only for Namibia but also for the region as a whole.

Professor David Simon comments, “Having been involved in Namibian research and current affairs since before independence, I was honoured to be the only non-Namibian invited to speak from the platform. This debate provided a rare opportunity in the UK to reflect authoritatively on progress and problems over the country’s first twenty years of statehood. Political stability, modest economic growth and diversification, as well as much improved access to social services in rural areas and for poor people are major gains, but corruption and a growing intolerance of divergent political views are growing concerns.”

A video of the debate is now available online at the following sites:

Namibia debate Part 1 http://vimeo.com/10518695

Namibia debate Part 2 http://vimeo.com/10679117

An account of the Debate can be found on the RAS website at: http://www.royalafricansociety.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=620

The following article by Tom Minney appeared in 'The Namibian' newspaper on 23 March:



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