One year ago, on November 9, 2014, three revolutionary and courageous Namibian youths took the boldest step in the history of both pre- and post- Independent Namibia by occupying a piece of land in a posh suburb of Kleine Kuppe to proclaim that business unusual was necessary to propel the land issue to the forefront of Namibian social and political platform.
Since that day, the rich and poor, the landlords and landless, the media and political commentators, the government and voting povo have been galvanised into a national debate, which has witnessed the politicisation of land to an extent that even the revolutionary liberation party found it appropriate to cut ties with these youths, because of their unapologetic position on land.
It would be an understatement to say the founders of Affirmative Reposition and their staunch supporters have ever since been subjected to various forms of victimisation, name-calling, suspensions and expulsions from their political home, threats of imprisonment, etc., just for raising public awareness on land.
The AR will go down in history as a form of Namibian political déjà vu, especially if the authorities continue to prevaricate on the undertakings agreed to between the AR and government. The militancy of Namibian youths, as exemplified under the leadership of the indefatigable Sam Nujoma, and comprising, among others, Hifikepunye Pohamba, Hage Geingob, Toivo ya Toivo, and Brendan Kangongolo Simbwaye, led Namibia to political independence under very difficult conditions.
Their courage not to waver in the face of the many obstacles placed in the liberation path by the apartheid colonial regime, which included death and imprisonment, will only serve to inspire the AR to remain steadfast in its original objectives – availability of land to Namibian youths in particular and Namibians in general.
Most importantly, the inclusive approach taken by President Geingob to engage the AR, demonstrates that not only has the Head of State given credence to the AR agenda, but that the agenda deserves support from all well-meaning Namibians.
This recognition alone speaks volumes that only the lunatic fringe of unpatriotic Namibians, who revel in seeing Namibians wallow in poverty and landlessness, would oppose and belittle the AR agenda and the gains made thus far.
However, one needs to caution that the positive engagement with the Head of State, and the achievements made so far, are only the tip of the iceberg that should inspire the youths to consolidate their gains and intensify their demands.
Those engagements should not be celebrated, but acknowledged. After all, making land available to the youth, and servicing that land, is in the first place a responsibility that government should have undertaken from the onset of Independence.
Therefore, it would be unfortunate for AR to rejoice at the fact that government has jumped onto the bandwagon of a land revolution. Doing so could place the AR firmly in a straightjacket, where its programme and actions will be aligned to government programmes, which – as everyone knows – have been moving in reverse gear on the land issue since Independence.
The march towards bequeathing landless Namibians with land is far from over. As the AR meet this weekend to take stock of the past 12 months and chart the way forward, it is important that the youths realise that forging such a struggle comes with responsibility, discipline, fortitude, and commitment to the principles that have kept the AR alive.
There are many more hills to climb. Any individual or institution that benefits from the deprivation of the masses of our people to access land will put stumbling blocks in the paths of the AR agenda and programme. Such machinations will come in many forms. Therefore, vigilance will be needed to guard against such machinations.
The wisdom of our forefathers teaches us that “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”. AR should not deviate from its principal objective: land for the landless youths.
In this regard, AR activists may wish to acknowledge that: “Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind. The understanding can intuit nothing, the senses can think nothing. Only through their union can knowledge arise” and one would dare say that AR needs to galvanise all sectors of society – particularly the landless poor, irrespective of age, to harness their intuition, skills and knowledge to advance the land revolution.
No well-meaning Namibian should allow our youth to effectively become disenfranchised through the silent withdrawal of their rights to secure a prosperous future for Namibia and its citizens. AR needs the support of everyone. The youth are not the enemy. Landlessness, unemployment, hunger, diseases, inequality, favouritism, corruption etc., are the enemies.
Allow them space to express themselves on national issues. Listen to them, support them and guide them when they go astray.
For the AR to accelerate the implementation of their programme and activities on land, it is important to bear in mind the old African adage, which says: “With each new day in Africa, a gazelle wakes up knowing he must outrun the fastest lion or perish. At the same time, a lion stirs and stretches, knowing he must outrun the fastest gazelle or starve”.
This is no different from the timeframes the AR has set for itself. AR needs to decide whether they consider themselves gazelles or lions, and whether they need to run faster than others in order to survive, bearing in mind that there are other forces that are hell-bent on frustrating the AR programmes.
* Dr Charles Mubita holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California.