PLATO, the great Greek philosopher and founder of the first institution of higher learning in the west once observed that “one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”. To Plato, state leadership should be characterised by these philosopher kings that are skilled and fit-for-purpose; those that are intelligent, rational, self-controlled, in love with wisdom and well suited to make decisions for the community. He provides the analogy of a captain of a ship and a medical practitioner buttressing the point that sailing and health are not things that everyone is qualified to practice by nature. He writes in ‘Republic’: “a true pilot must of necessity pay attention to the seasons, the heavens, the stars, the winds, and everything proper to the craft if he is really to rule a ship.”
Listen to him further: “until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophise, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide … cities will have no rest from evils nor, I think, will the human race”. It is clear that in Namibia we are not led by philosopher kings but often by the untalented amongst us. This is not hard to prove, we only need to make the following observations and ask few questions; how come that majority of members of parliament haven’t said anything or proposed any idea/law for more than a year in Parliament?
What is to be said of charlatans like Armas Amukwiyu, whose grade 10 results are a secret, are exerting tremendous influence on the state disproportionate to their education? Isn’t it true that accepting Kunene Governor Angelika Muharukua as anything closer to a philosopher queen is similar to accepting Pastor Vilho Paulus claims that he is Jesus Christ? The answers are simple. In our set-up, we have charlatans as pilots with no comprehension of the seasons, the heavens, the stars, the winds etc – direct opposite of Plato’s analogies. With the ignoramus triumphing and leading society the observation becomes that it would seem that sailing and health are things that everyone can practice.
The consequences of a metaphorical situation whereby health, aviation and sailing are things everyone can practice are that people with die, aircrafts crush and ships sinks. Small things will not be understood by charlatans occupying places of Plato’s philosopher kings. Charlatans would also have difficulty in comprehending even the meaning of history. Although they may be familiar to history, they may not be able to conduct historical analysis to comprehend the events of today. Conversations about history cannot be stopped just because some may not use these aptly. Roman political theorist Marcus Tullius Cicero is thus instructive: “history is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalises memory [and] provides guidance in daily life”.
There has never been a time, over the past 26 years of flag and utilitarian independence, when the youth are galvanised and mobilised against any issue as it the case today. They are demanding access to education, land and resources; the share of the national cake. Those in power cannot either fathom this development or are captivated by the fear of losing their exclusive potato salad they kept enjoying at the expense of the masses. They chose to respond violently, repressively and irrationally in the hope that they can suppress the genuine struggle of a tired generation of fearless youth.
But the forget-not pens of history are ready to illuminate reality, vitalise memory and provide guidance. When the slaves stood up on 22 August 1791 leading to the Haitian revolution, they were not directed and inspired by old men demanding respect but by a youth; Dutty Boukman. It wasn’t old men that stood up against General Fulgencio Batista when he overthrew Carlos Prio Socarras on 10 March 1952 but a young lawyer Fidel Castro. Castro was defeated several times by Batista, on 26th July 1953 and 02 December 1956, but soldiered on until Batista eventually resigned and fled the country on 1st January 1959. Mao Zedong was in his 30s when he stood up against Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuomintang when he started a violent purge of the communists. He led mobilised the peasants against Chiang Kai-Shek repression, defeated in September 1927, but they never gave up. Chiang Kai-Shek even organised 1 million government forces against Mao in October 1934 but Mao persevered. On 1st October 1949 Chiang Kai-Shek eventually fled to Taiwan while Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China. The French revolution, particularly the period between 1788 and 1791, demonstrates how it was carried on the shoulders of the youth. These forget-not pens of history indicate that firstly all major developments changes in history were brought by the youth. Secondly, it is clear that no one, no matter how powerful they thought they were, ever fought against the youth and won.
It is not just Europe where youth led struggle. Consider the case of Namibia. The forget-not pens of history records that in 1911, King Nande yaHedimbi died and was succeeded by young Mandume yaNdemufayo as King of the Oukwanyama kingdom at the time Portuguese were advancing into the Akwanyama land. In 1915, young Mandume was able to successfully defend the Oukwanyama kingdom against the Portuguese invasion. He was only 21 years. The generations of youth that followed fighting injustices and they did not seek permission or direction from old men. In 1952 South African youth and activists embarked upon a Defiance Campaign. This campaign inspired the Namibian student studying in South Africa who then went to form the South West Africa Student Body (SWASB). Later on, in 1955, they formed the South West African Progressive Association (SWAPA). The Owambo People’s Congress (OPC) was then formed in 1957 by young Namibian workers led by Andimba Toivo yaToivo who was later be deported having being caught sending tape-recordings to Kerina Mburumba at the UN. Kerina was petitioning against South Africa’s occupation of the then South West Africa.
In May 1959, the urban youth and young teachers, under the leadership of Fanuel Kozonguizi, formed the South West Africa National Union (SWANU). When Sam Nujoma and Jacob Kuhangua addressed a mass meeting in Walvis Bay on 25 June 1959 to explain the formation of the Owambo People Organisation (OPO), he had just turned 30 the previous month. It was not old men who went into exile after the old location massacre but militant youth. In fact, old men who had gone into exile earlier were just relaxing and not eager to fight. It was the youth who went into exile in the early 1970s who went to agitate and energised the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). The forget-not pens of history tell us that even our own struggles have been a youth affair. The suggestion by the elite that current youth must be silent zombies clapping hands and singing songs, and not fight for economic freedom, social justice and correct the wrongs of present day society is ahistorical, hypocritical and petty? It will simply not happen. Even defeat after defeat they will continue. The programme of the youth is not even aimed at removing the leadership to justify the response. What happens going forward is entirely up to those in power. Listen to the forget-not pens of history.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015