When we gained our political independence and for over two decades thereafter, Namibians were a small nation looking to the future with confidence and hope, as they were invited to do by the Founding President on 21 March 1990. Namibians walked tall and straight on the continent and in the world as not only the child of international solidarity, but the new star punctuating a people united in their will to be better could not be defeated.
There was a feeling across language, tribe and religion that the Land of the Brave was marching forward as a source of pride in Afrika. The new political leadership in a free Namibia began to rule with decorum, a generosity such that fearful white South Africans were given comfort that black leaders were not as bad as they thought.
We were more national than tribal, more united than racist, more equal than torn, more Namibian than political party members. There was a collective good feeling beyond hope – that we stood a very good chance to escape the bottleneck, no, the curse, of Afrikan politics of ethnic strife, buffoonery, indifference, decline and autocracy of One Big Man known to be the official custodian of greed and corruption.
If we recall, the elections of 2014 and the results thereof left us filled with more optimism. President Hage Geingob made the right pronouncements about the Namibian House, where no one will be left outside, transparency galore, the end to corruption and the banishment of poverty. President Geingob would not have said it better.
Yet a growing number of citizens are not acknowledging that these things have arrived. In every corner and under every tree, people are saying ‘Namibia is no longer what she was three years ago when we were all excited and hopeful with the last general elections.’
It would appear that we are in an awkward dip where we are being revisionists of our unfolding history. People’s narratives of their current experiences are the exact opposite of the lofty promises they heard and continue to hear from numerous loudspeakers.
More voices are pointing to their own anguish and hurt, unfortunately under the watch of the new administration, which was, to all intents and purposes, given a much bigger mandate. Our Republican life was meant to give us all more comfort to feel included and appreciated so that we can bring our individual best to the collective table, yet we feel something is not right. It would appear that President Geingob has accumulated more enemies within two years than presidents Nujoma and Pohamba combined had over 25 years.
The governing party that has amassed huge symbolic capital over the years is now increasingly becoming the subject of ridicule inside and beyond our borders. So much so that when in international conversations, Namibia would prefer that South Africa is the subject of conversation and not Namibia because it is becoming increasingly difficult to countenance the behaviour of our political elite. It is not nice to be equated with the admittedly more robust ANC elite after 2010 when the ANC began to do what Swapo is doing now, using the state as trains to wealth and power.
It would appear that State House’s value proposition is becoming increasingly questionable and causing the governing party to implode. We are certainly living in unfortunate times where we ought to do more enlightened prognoses of our situation than just blame the leadership and/or the President, in the hope that we shall emerge out of the growing pains we are enduring better, bigger and greater.
The politics of fear that we used to read about before is now our own story. People’s livelihoods have been yanked away from them not because they broke the law, but because they were perceived to be against someone or gossip painted them oppositional and therefore banished themselves into the cold and out of the Namibian House.
Our times seem to suggest that the youth are cursed for being born too late to matter at all. We live in a time where the signs say that the registration for relevance closed at midnight on 21 March 1990. The youth are becoming more and more anxious about their own future as there is absolutely no desire on the part of those who liberated the nation to pass on the baton to the younger and future generations.
Yet it is increasingly difficult to figure out when we went off the rail if we were doing well before. There is more hatred, more tribal politics than before, political leadership has become a licence to quick wealth so much so that many of our leaders in parliament and cabinet have a business on the side.
And there seems to be no abating as those who are supposed to be the guardians of our leadership ethics are busy tendering for plots to build properties for rent. Our leaders who are supposed to regulate are giving themselves loans with no inclination to pay back, and accounting officers in our Offices, Ministries and Agencies also have side businesses in lodges, catering, construction and shebeens. This is indeed a very unfortunate development, which the future will find unforgivable. There are mini-Nkandlas all over the place in Namibia!
As we are busy authoring our own history, we must bear in mind that we are creating legacies for the future. Our experiences need to be placed in the context of how other nations floundered in history. No one wants to be remembered negatively because we are all too preoccupied with the present. Those who were part of the glorious past have great reluctance to deal with the present, never mind the future.
They are in love with the past, and despise the future wherein they are not the main players. We all suffer myopia and are victims of the false evidence appearing real. We are at a crossroads, and we need to ask ourselves the following questions, and answer them with forthright honesty:
• Where are we in the following story about Afrikan politics in Uganda? It was discovered that Ugandans were once very kind, gentle and generous people until the narcissistic and self-praising Idi Amin came and the state became arrogant, self-serving, indifferent and cruel. The study showed that most people in Amin’s government also became mean and began to afflict untold cruelty on their people to protect themselves and their interests. This might sound a bit harsh but when we look at the low levels of confidence in the executive, the disregard of the rule of law and the unpardonable silence on the corruption of those who are in the choir, the wasteful expenditure of state resources on oozy public relations exercises, the broad daylight intolerance of independent thoughts, the disdain for the youth, the impugning of other people’s integrity and removing their livelihoods – this conclusion is a patriotic assertion and a distress alarm to those who care about Namibia’s name and future.
• By the look and sound of things, shall we not be remembered to have been part of the decline of Namibia’s standing in its own eyes as well the broader world as we descend into the pit of polarized and dysfunctional politics?
• Can we say that our democracy has not been captured by financial interests so much so that there is no space for law abiding citizens to express their views outside of the political party system?
• Can we deny that our politics is characterized more by what divides us than our commonality, which we had for twenty five years while we were allowed to have more views than those of the liberation struggle?
• Will future generations not lament that we once had the opportunity to build a nation that Afrika has never seen before – a nation where all races, languages, nationalities and whatever markers of difference, and created a microcosm of the desired new world order where people were not judged by their looks or sounds, but by the gifts they held in their hands when approaching the common table?
• Will we be talked about as the generation that chose loyalty, friendship and silence as the criteria for citizenship at the expense of critical minds to drive national development agendas?
• Are we not living like those in a typical Big Brother bubble where we behave as if there is no bigger world out there as long as we were seen to outperform the rest of the inmates?
• Have we not become a nation where greed is the creed and where the most greedy seen is the most attractive? Finally, are we the best that we have hoped to become and if yes, when did the wheels fall off the bus?