In our contemporary times, we are impacted and affect our own lives and those of people around us, by being influenced by the media and the stories we are told or we witness.
Our fight against the cruel racist apartheid regime was not merely a fireplace story – it was real. In those days, when it was unsafe to be part of the liberation struggle, many either ran from us or even turned on us, but of course, we have reconciled as was expected of us.
To the younger generation, one of the positive attributes of the good old bad days of our fight for freedom is that we read a lot, we debated a lot, and we held and attended many workshops, seminars and training.
Every revolutionary was eager to lay their hands on progressive writings. We were eager to grow our own food and make our own clothes. We even turned our days, months and years in prison, unless we were in solitary confinement, into institutions of education. Football matches and all athletics meetings included robust discussions and debates on freedom and liberation. And, of course, there was a deep sense of respectability and dignity about being a revolutionary.
Note that I did not mention a sense of celebrity. The celebrity culture is one that came recently with selfish materialism and what I term bubblegum politics where we now major on the minors and minor on the majors of life.
I believe that if we are serious about addressing the scourge of illiteracy, of poverty, of gender-based violence, of crime and corruption, then the need for deeper, more serious conversation with the intensity it deserves needs to vigorously take place. Instead of being a by-the-way discussion or workshop, which is regarded as less important than deal-making for personal benefits as we celebrate each other in air-conditioned boardrooms. Not even realising that we have been assimilated into systems we think we run, and yet they run us because their custodians are thousands of miles away in far-off lands.
This culture of bubblegum politics is also largely driven by a spirit of entitlement. Yes, being rewarded for one’s effort is both gratifying and noble, but once we start to demand without contributing to the advancement of the common good, then our demands are misplaced and tantamount to entitlement.
The issues facing any nation-state, including Namibia, in the globalised 21st century, require and even demand undivided attention, robust discussions and continuous research beyond the tribal chit-chat, religious bickering, and selfish political infighting.
The dignity, with which we fought the liberation struggle, is the same dignity and sense of purpose with which we
should be waging the economic struggle.
This unbecoming bubblegum politics is so disgusting that it even works at trying to undermine and diminish the efforts of the government to address matters that affect us all.
Namibia has been and is still celebrated internationally, but we must never take this for granted because the very institutions that celebrate us internationally also have the potential to turn on us, as was the case in our economic downgrading last year.
We have the European Union instructing its ambassadors to seek an audience with our President [Hage Geingob] on the issues that they realise affect even them and their offspring living on the continent. Issues such as land and the economic empowerment of the vast majority of our people are very serious matters that demand that even while we enjoy cocktail parties and normal living, like the celebration of a child’s birthday, a wedding celebration, a baptism or graduation, the discussion of improving the lot of our people should never be a taboo.
Instead, we find ourselves bombarded by the most astounding and craziest social media reports calling themselves “Breaking News” and the likes and reporting the most unwarranted hogwash aimed at State House. Forcefully pulling in the President, the First Lady, their family and associates as well as national leaders of the ruling party both active and retired. This is bubblegum politics.
It is bubblegum politics that influence journalists to be biased and overzealous in their reporting of wrong facts. It is bubblegum politics that aims to cynically trash everything that President Geingob and our elected leaders put in place to address the societal challenges of our country.
What is it that drives this bubblegum politics, the politics that is in fact not politics, the politics that demeans all and sundry and the rubbishes the noble fight that was fought for freedom and liberation? It is greed driven by sycophantism.
It is bubblegum politics that makes an entire society and nation suspicious of each other from the family unit to the national level.
This does not in anyway rule out the fact that there are still amazing skilled and educated progressive specialists among us.
Once a system, no matter how good it is, only serves the corrupt who want everything for themselves, we end up with bubblegum politics.
Bubblegum politics gives rise to the recycling of the same people as though it is their preserve to hold high office in both the public and private office.
We all like the finer things of life, we all like to exercise command and control over our own destinies and most of all we all want to see our children provided for and owning beautiful things and being educated in the best schools.
The question that begs an answer is this: when we wrestle with each other for political power, is it really for the silent majority or is it to gain access to the trappings of power that come with high office.
As a veteran of our liberation struggle and an active member of our ruling party, I refuse to entertain unnecessary discussions that seek to undermine our leaders from branch to national.
I remain convinced that somewhere, somehow, there is a generation of true revolutionaries and deep thinkers that is fast becoming extinct due to the erosion of the constant pillars that hold up our ideological beliefs of Ubuntu where the essence of the African story is based on “an injury to one is an injury to all” as “each one, teach one”.
How do people wake up and decide that someone in the person of our First Lady is actually running the country? This, dear friends and fellow citizens, is bubblegum politics. But in fact, very dangerous bubblegum politics because it is this type of hogwash that undermines the decent intentions of people who are part of us, who come from us and who are with us, breathing the same air and crying with us when we cry as well as laughing with us when we laugh.
I believe that every minister, politician and executive in public service wants to make a success of their work by doing their best. Yes, differences will be there, but at the end of the day, we find common ground and concentrate on that which unites us rather than the things that divide us. Alone you might go faster, but together, we can go further. We are an amazing nation.