Youth in Perspective

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The Sociology of a Political Discourse in Namibia

By Chris Hatutale Hawala

The year 2009 will mark a period in the history of Namibia when for the first time the generation of the born frees will be eligible to vote en masse.

This of course necessitates debate amongst us as youth activists and youth practitioners in the republic, to determine the agenda that would define the political consciousness of this generation. This debate is more urgent than ever as Swapo Party Youth League charts the political agenda of young people for the next five years, a period which includes electoral freedom for the born frees.

It is of note however that the generation which precedes the born frees and not so born frees had dedicated their lives through the student movement to the liberation, as apartheid was an impediment to individual growth and prosperity. The argument being individuals could not prosper as the repressive environment did not allow this particular growth (I stand to be challenged on that).

The advent of independence resulted in this generation pursuing careers in pursuit of material wealth, not that this is wrong but their political involvement also diminished as a result.

Today, this generation is referred to as the lost generation as they continue to build wealth with little or no political involvement, often suffering from the crisis of accumulation and an ever diminishing recognition of their role in the liberation struggle. Essentially freedom brought individual liberties which could not be guaranteed under apartheid, resulting in urgency for the economic acceleration of the republic (what I would term the scramble for the economic cake post-independence).

The generation in between the born frees and the lost generation (of which I am) continued to reap fruits of independence by gaining better education and henceforth more opportunities for economic advancement. Again our interests have also diverged away from politics as we continue to wine and dine in the most posh places, attempt to play golf and more than ever appreciate the emergence of the art industry with little play in the political sphere.

“The question therefore is, being beneficiaries of the blood that waters our freedom what de-links us from the pot of tea that was spilled in order to bring about the pot of honey that we so much savour.”

Does the current political arrangement entice our involvement apart from the tokenism of carrying party cards for strategic reasons without serious participation in party activities?

Studying from the neighbouring experiences of the ANC Youth League we had come to know of deployment and poli-tainment as options in ensuring the continued participation of young people in the political arena despite the individual liberties they continue to pursue.

The process of deployment would require the youth league to encourage its leadership and cadre starting at section level to be deployees of the league in the private sector by taking up career opportunities in private sector. This would require that they aggressively pursue the envisaged economic transformation policies and therefore be able to lobby the fellow youth in the private sector to be active participants in the political arena through efforts of raising capital for the political and social programmes of the league. As deployees, they would not only be in the private sector to pursue personal growth but ultimately their agenda would be that of an accelerated and shared growth of the Namibian economy, as their conduct would be defined by youth league policy and programme which policy is our duty as vanguard members of the league.

This will also address the fact that not all can be in government to contribute positively to the social policies of the republic, but that contribution can be done by being deployees of the league in productive sectors of society.

The student populace is another sector that today continues to feel the effects of liberation euphoria with struggling student movements – this comrade Elijah Ngurare attributes to the disaffiliation of NANSO from Swapo post-independence, with NANSO the only student movement having struggle credentials amidst those that are in pursuit of survival.

True as it may be, these problems runs deeper than disaffiliation in the sense that in the student movements we did not identify our roles in independent Namibia as per needs of students inclusive of their need for entertainment.

But why the emphasis so much on entertainment? My experiences ares that we can not effectively call a gathering of students to intellectualise without enticing them with a social gathering in return for their attendance. More often, meetings called by leading student activist would be characterised as boring, as students would opt for an Omshasho and GMP Show instead of the talk shows (again individual liberties come to the fore).

The league is therefore in a key position (as a leading youth political formation) to lead the struggle by ensuring that students identify with the league and this could be done by properly defining Ndilimani’s role in transmitting the revolution while equally responding to the entertainment of young people. Essentially other progressive Namibian artists should continue to be pursued aggressively – a case in point was the Omalaeti Yo Swapo.

Every major rally of the league and by extension that of the party should include hyper bashes of entertainment as demanded by the born frees.

“We are evening and morning stars let our league identify with our youthfulness lest we become evening stars like the lost generation.”

Let’s chart a future inclusive of the needs and aspirations of the born frees as we chart the political roadmap of Swapo’s Youth and by extension that of Namibia’s youth for the next five years.

– In memory of Comrade Owen Archibald Shamena and many other youth pioneers whose sacrifice led to the individual liberties we today so much enjoy.

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