TONIGHT, 04 August 2016, we will be launching the book on the historiography of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement we wrote with activists Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and George Kambala titled ‘Affirmative Repositioning – Awakening a Generation’. When we posted this on social media one critic retorted: “It is too early to write history”. It would be a mistake to dismiss this claim as a rant of a jealous armchair critic who has not produced even a sentence in mainstream public discourse. Such a dismissal is a mistake for there may be many others with this pedestrian view; the idea that history is to be written by old men after an extended period of time. This has actually been Africa’s biggest mistake to which we will return to this later.
As stated elsewhere, the book we are launching tonight at Protea Hotel Thuringerhof is meant to provide an account filling an existing vacuum in the authoritative articulation of the identity, meaning, order and posture of AR; a novelty providing clarity on the movement. The launch will position and link AR to earlier other social justice struggles. It is for this reason that veteran activist and political freedom fighter who coined the name ‘Namibia’, Professor Mburumba Kerina, will deliver a keynote address. Professor Kerina is amongst the earliest petitioners to the United Nations for Namibian independence alongside Reverend Michael Scott, Chief Hosea Kutako, Hans Beukes, Markus Kooper, Advocate Jariretundu Kozonguizi and Founding President Sam Nujoma and others.
This history, courage of conviction and intellectual prowess attracted us to him. We are invoking his name to write it in gold, particularly in the consciousness of present day activists, as among revolutionary activists who made an outstanding contribution to a Namibia that we now know. The launch will also be graced by London-based Pan African activist, Mr. X; a friend of AR and AR activists since 2015. He had read about AR in an international magazine, New African, and subsequently decided to visit Namibia and AR in 2015. He was among the activists who cleared land for the Massive Urban Land
Servicing Programme at various sites in 2015, having bought tools and other material support. A goodwill Ambassador of AR internationally who is already in retirement, Mr. X, is committed to our generation of activists not only in Namibia but also in Gambia, Lesotho and other African countries. He will deliver his account and Pan African solidarity message on behalf of the African diaspora. The book is the first of its kind by young activists in post-independence Namibia. Apart from providing a historical account of AR radical actions, it also provides insights on areas that many were/are unable to access. Since the ruling party had integrated itself and stood opposed to our struggle, we were faced with the question of how to provide an account of this involvement. We have thus decided to include the judgment delivered by Judge Collins Parker in the Case ‘Amupanda vs SWAPO Party of Namibia’ for the readers to fully acquaint themselves with this matter. As such, the book also becomes reading material for case law in Namibia.
Let’s return to the question on the writing of history. The view that writing history is a business of old men who have lived long is a misplaced notion that must be challenged for its mediocrity. It is this narrative that has led Africa into serious problems. Africans waited for a long time to apparently accumulate enough experience then subsequently write history. As they wait in their mediocrity, whites do not join them in their waiting mediocrity; they take their pens and document the African narratives from their perspective. Given that Africans as key participants are waiting to grow grey hair in order to write history – the accounts of whites becomes authoritative. While they are waiting, the undemocratic God often decides to unilaterally recall them from the journey on earth. They then depart with their narratives to their graves; greed! It is for this reason that many accounts and narrative on Africa, even those on tradition and culture, are written by outsiders.Those that are lucky soon realise, as they wait, that their waiting is actually foolhardy. Pan African intellectual Chancellor Williams was one of the lucky Africans to realise their mistake. He spent 16 years of research and field studies intended for a two-volume history of the African people. In his 1987 book ‘The destruction of black civilization’, he writes: “the writing plan for the two volumes would have required at least another five years, even if the serious impairment of my vision had not occurred. In the meantime there had developed an urgent need for the result of my research which concentrated on crucial areas in the history of the blacks that had been either unknown, known and misinterpreted, or known but deliberately ignored… [the book] could not wait another five years just to be more detailed, impressive, or massive in scope, for a reinterpretation of the history of the African race could be compressed into a small work for background reading. ”
Williams is not alone. In January 2016, former President of South Africa, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, started writing a series of letters bemoaning the reality of the writing of South African modern political history that has been uncritically accepted as authoritative and definitive albeit written by mere observers rather than participants. Mbeki committed the same mistake we described above. In one of his letters in April 2016 he admits as follows: “I must confess that I decided that I should indeed use the opportunity that had arisen, to publish the promised articles, to correct a mistake we had made over the years. That mistake was our failure systematically to challenge and rebut the many falsehoods which had been propagated especially during the years I served in Government”.
If fine minds such as Chancellor Williams and Thabo Mbeki can realise the foolishness characterising the ‘too early’ narrative, only clowns can remain trapped in such mediocrity. Such is the approach to the writing of the AR historiography. Robin George Collingwood, British archaeologist, comes to mind. He is worth your ear: “history is for human self-knowledge … the only clue to what man can do is what man has done.
The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015