What shall future generations say about us? Will we be thanked, praised or cursed? Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa and other political systems in the world that raped their societies are cursed by subsequent generations. Those who come after the experiences that disfigured the faces of their societies bear the blame; the brunt of the resentment of their peers in the world to the extent that future generations change their names in avoidance of associations with evil. This enquiry seeks not to indict our leaders or organizations but requires an honest answer from us all, wherever we find ourselves with whatever size the spheres of our influence are.
Way too often, we heap all blame upon our leaders and conceal our own shortcomings and dereliction of duty in the life of our nation. We all have some responsibility to bring our bit to the common good today and to mortgage a better future for the youth and coming generations. Thanks to the gallant leaders who brought us where we are today, we live in a nation and no longer in homelands. Namibia is not what it was before independence.
Namibia is a Republic, meaning that our order of governance is a contractual relationship between those who govern and those who are governed. In this system, authority and power to govern come strictly from the people who in turn reserve the right to recall elected officials who fail to perform as per agreement. In essence, this compact means that those in power fear the electorate and not the other way around. This is so because; in a Republic, the governor and the governed have a responsibility of mutuality to each other.
Good governors are both the consequence as well as the expression of those who are governed. Elected leaders are as good or as bad as those who choose them.
Leaders in government, civil society, churches, private sector, youth and education institutions, have a share in our future based upon the relationships we are forging and what we are doing in the present. Many years from now, where will our name as a generation appear on the pages of critical history? Our sins are in our failings to assist one another in the following terrains:
LACK OF COLLECTIVE SENSE OF HISTORY: History is never a linear or straight line, but a more or less objective account by a more or less honest observer of something, which with a greater or lesser degree of accuracy, happened or did not happen at all. As Namibians in our diversity, we do not have the same memories of events that are of importance to our existence and which explain or justify the spaces we hold in our changing society right now as we are at a crossroads of our civilization. Our memories run along these lines: as tribes, as races, as ethnicities, as language groups, as sexes, as members of same church denominations, as unfree and stateless people. Herein rest the main foci of our differences, disunity and potential conflict. Our disparate remembrances of where we come from, and what we did and why we did what we did cause us to behave in manners at variance with what we profess we ought to be as citizens of one Republic. Our narratives of how we got here are not the same. Our histories deliver in us winners and losers, bad fellows and high priests of correctness who can make no errors and who are now entitled to have, receive, distribute power and resources and even loot resources that belong to all of us now. Our claims of history and our relevance therein are inconsistent and stand in conflict with what the present records and the future will remember as the truth.
Political leaders, business people, civil society, religious leaders and followers, rich and poor, alike are saddled with the same encumbrances of historical dissonances. The good examples of this are in the revolutions that rocked the world to the surprise and chagrin of those who believed that they were in charge. For instance, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his family have been in prison since 2011 when the youth-led revolution caused him to flee from the State House after he had ruled for 30 years. His colleague the Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee in the dead of night after the uprising in the land he ruled for 23 years. What caused the Arab revolution were essential factors, rising unemployment amongst the youth, rampant corruption amongst the political elite and shrinking press freedom. These leaders ignored or dismissed signs at the peril of the humiliation that met them in the end. Like these Arab leaders and loyal supporters, we in Namibia are choosing to ignore the signs of socio-political decay, and when we are told, we blame and hate the messenger. What remains true is that history does not repeat itself but starts all over again, and treats all the players as original.
LACK OF COLLECTIVE VISION: A vision is seeing the not yet in the face of the right now, it is living in the future in spite of the bad experiences of now. The troubles we are facing today, namely greed, intolerance, corruption, tribalism, non-performance and abuse of the resources placed under our care are the results of the statements of vision we have made and continue to make about our country and nation. Our nation and country comprises very many elements of which we are not even aware, yet pronounce ourselves as if we know and care. The fact of the matter is that we do not know who and where Namibians and are – never mind care about their wellbeing. We tend to conflate our greed with the general wellbeing of those who we do not allow to be heard.
None of the leaders of our established political parties that have vision statements have been able to epitomize a clear and inspirational picture of a future Namibia in such a way that the rest of us feel moved to be associated with that desired future state. The governing party got it right during the struggle for national independence when it articulated a message that persuaded people, especially the youth, to sacrifice for a better Namibia wherein they saw freedom and a better life for themselves and all others. In all fairness the leadership of the liberation movement beat the clarion call of drums for the future, so much so that young people left their homesteads to be part of that grand dream of a free and independent Namibia wherein citizens lived as equals, in peace and happiness with their dignity restored.
After independence, our political party politics have not been able to articulate a clear vision for the country apart from the intermittent platitudes uttered at party events. At the moment, political party visions are stronger than the national vision. Vision 2030 is a good political and development program – not a vision per se as it has not been able to dwarf and replace the divisive messages of political parties. Right now Vision 2030 is in all fairness dead. This is what the late Tatekulu Ya Toivo tried to imbue in the national body politic. Namibia is not a nation yet, but an assortment of political party fearpreneurs trying to outcompete one another without distinct rules of the same game. (To be continued)