Invoking the memoirs of the celebrated thinker Frantz Fanon in his well-read book “The Wretched of the Earth” he stated that every generation must out of relative obscurity find its own mission, fulfill it or betray it.
He even went further in that book and stated that a government or a party gets the people it deserves and sooner or later a people gets the government it deserves.
It is thus evident from the above quotes that we cannot remain silent, static, uninvolved and only be mere bystanders in the kitchen of ideas.
It is a must that when our elders are busy putting the recipe together to be put in the food that we will all eat as Namibians – the youth should be there at the forefront, adding and subtracting the ingredients in that recipe for a balanced recipe.
What is politics?
The great philosopher and thinker Aristotle, born circa 384 BC in Stagira, Greece, defined politics as “a practical science” because it deals with making citizens happy.
His philosophy is to find the supreme purpose of life – virtue as he puts it. One of the important roles of a politician is to make laws, or constitutions. With this task I believe that Aristotle wanted the citizens’ well-being and livelihood to be contemplated before any laws were made permanent.
However if Aristotle were still alive, which is humanly impossible as we are talking about almost 2.500 years ago, he will be disappointed that his thought of “politicians making people happy by promulgating laws” has been thrown to the back door in most countries.
The role of the youth
Young people can be seen as having distinctive political interests, more inclined to change than older generations, more idealistic in their goals and less loyal to established traditions. In economic terms, young people are especially vulnerable to increased unemployment, because this hurts most those who are just entering the labour market.
They are much more affected by a government’s education policy toward cash grants for students and tuition charges than by pension measures that affect their parents or grandparents. Especially in new democracies, education policy affects the opportunity of getting a good job and social mobility.
Insofar as the lifestyles of young people differ substantially from older generations, youths are more sensitive to laws that regulate behaviour that their elders reject, for example, concerning sex, abortion and the use of soft drugs.
It has been illustrated time and again that most successful revolutions throughout the world have been spearheaded by young people. In young people you will find the power of persuasion and intellect that transform society for better or worse.
What is our mission as young people?
Steve Biko (1946-1977) once said, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” I must say he was indeed right in the sense that in the current Namibian political set-up our leaders have hijacked our minds and gladly convinced us that young people have no business in party politics until they perhaps reach the age of 30 and beyond.
Our minds have been hijacked to the extent that we are only used as voting cows on election day and been relegated to the background once elections are over. During election, especially internal ones, we are used to fight fights that are not ours, we are told to hate fellow countrymen and do anything within our powers to prevent them from advancing to the next level of leadership.
We are being used to spy for others on our elders’ behalf and we are rewarded with bringing in juicy stories, and on the misfortunes, about others. It is regrettable that this cycle continues until those elders attain power and once they are in power they then relegate us to the back door.
During the next five years of the election cycle we are collecting dust in meaningless positions of being PAs, drivers, or office clerks until the next election.
Once it is election time again we are then brought in again and the same cycle continues, but to whose benefit? Surely not the youth.
I believe therefore that the youth should strive for a more inclusive country, where everyone can participate in all areas of society, engaging in great decisions of the country.
Young people should organise themselves to influence local, national and regional decisions, from the negotiation tables and dialogue to major socio-political mobilizations making our voices heard.
Why should young participate in issues that affect them?
It is a fact that young people are often seen as commodities and not as rights holders. Young people have a new and innovative change dynamic that adults usually don’t have, so why keep them at bay?
It is our mission as young people to continue fighting for our beliefs, and although often we will not find support or resources to operate, educate and mobilize social groups to make our voices heard, our commitment to social change should strengthen and encourage us to continue working despite adversity. We need our continued active participation to include ourselves in the process of socio-economic development.
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