The Thirteen Generations of Namibians and their Fates

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The population of Namibia today can be divided into different generations with particular sets of issues that either affect or characterize them as they interact with other generations who also have their own issues. A generation in this sense is a group or cohort of people falling within the same range of age, have fairly similar experiences and can therefore be expected to hold relatively similar assumptions about an issue or challenge they face at any given time, and are more likely than not to have similar responses to challenges as time goes on. At any given time in history, people see things through lenses which are often NOT of their own choosing, and their experience determine how they react. They say you can argue with any one about anything except their experiences. Here are the generations of Namibians today:

The Past Generation: The past generation comprises the veritable foundational figures of our history, such as Samuel kaMahahero who persuaded his counterpart Nama leader Hendrik Witbooi to cast their eyes beyond tribe and unto the bigger picture along nationalist lines and in so doing forged a formidable genesis of what became Namibian nationalism. There were other figures in different communities across the country that put up resistance to loss of land and identity without whom the known struggles would not have been possible. The Herero Chiefs Council is one most critical component of this generation, for without its members, our evolution towards a One Namibia, One Nation would have been more handicapped. It is on this past that the strong foundation of the struggle for independence was based. It is this past that links us organically to our past. The Fatherhood and Motherhood of our nation go to Herero, Nama and Sam !Khubis figures who looked beyond their parochial circumstances and dreamed of a bigger, larger and more durable Nation in Diversity.

The Have-Been-To-Generation: The history of our struggles either for freedom or against freedom left us with psychological bruises and psychic scars of such nature that we find ourselves overstating our own contributions to this or that honourable story. In the climate of clamour for legitimacy and relevance, we are often compelled to tell lies about where we have been. Many people claim to have been in the battle whereas they were mere students or clerks in former Bantustans or international offices. Have-Been-to-People live under illusions of grandeur which eventually become their reality, and in the end they are prepared to defend their lies by any means necessary. The danger is that if they lie about where they started, they are likely not to know the truth about where to go. Hence the looting that goes on in the governance of our national resources.

The Lost Generation: The lost generation comprises men and women who emerged as significant torchbearers for their peers in whatever they were doing to prepare a better future, and began to move things forward. This category would have personages like Jacob Morenga, Peter Nanyemba, Milner Thlabanello, Brendan Simbwaye, and the likes whose contributions were intercepted by hostile interests and who, when we think of them, we hold the sentiments that if they did not die when they did, they would have made the world different from what it is today. With their passing, Namibia lost something immense, and their spirit is missed as a counterfactual.

The Missed Generation: In the life of a community or nation, there are persons who are thought of as those who could have done something but circumstances just did not permit them to do much. Most of our parents and their parents fall in this category. They faced life under sets of conditions that did not allow them to even give good education to their children, not because they failed to but because they could not at the time do it, but did their best. It is through their endurance and gifts to us that we are still here today. There were times when parents did bad things to protect the future of their children, such as teach them racist thoughts in order to protect them from the fangs of a feared government. Any parent would do what is best for his/her child in the context of what is known. Many of our white compatriots’ forebears easily fall under this lot who would have behaved differently had they known better. We are doing things today that might not be viewed as progressive in years to come.

The Absent Generation: These are people who we wish did not exist in our lives. In our history as families, communities and as a nation, there are personalities we wish to expunge from our memories for some reason or other. Uncle Mishake Muyongo unfortunately falls in this category because of the manner in which he wrote his epitaph in the Namibian history. This sad trajectory of people’s histories invariably happens when people get too excited about the present and forget that they have a baggage that follows them as well as a legacy that they can still author in a manner that does not leave too sour a taste in people’s mouths, and be absent from their conversations.

The Gone Generation: There are people who live and die and their loss is not felt much, no matter how hard they try in the end to explain away the inconveniences they inflicted upon others. Persons such as General Lothar von Trotha who was in charge of the German Order of Extermination during the genocide years, the late Jannie de Wet, the Kommissaris-Generaal van die Inboorlingvolke van SWA (Commissioner General of the Indigenous Nations of SWA) and Pik Botha in South Africa. In their latter years they try to make amends but people prefer them to be gone. – The other seven generations will be published next week.

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