By Job Shipululo Amupanda
THERE is one criticism that public intellectuals always face. There has been an undying observation that they often leave many out by operating at the higher level of knowledge production and expressions; from concepts to grammar.
From conversations I held with other public intellectuals, I have come realise that it is not as easy as it is made to appear. For example, how is one to explain the dynamics of the stock exchange in a language that can be understood by a cattle-herder? How does one explain, in accessible language, that it is haemoglobin (particularly the hemes) that gives blood its red colour? Are intellectuals supposed to reduce themselves to pedestrianism or somehow agitate for the upscaling of the unknowledgeable to some level of higher understanding?
Indeed, is it in our interest, as a society, to dwarf the centrality of knowledge acquisition given that our knowledge based economy aspirations? The answers are not as simple – they are neither here nor there. Be that as it may, public intellectuals cannot simply just reduce themselves to pedestrianism nor can ignore those who have not attained higher knowledge. This, therefore, means that they have to find a middle way. One such middle way, particularly amongst political scientists, is to find illustrative scenarios and examples ordinary people are familiar with – the popular narratives in society – and then relate concepts to those scenarios.
Consider the crisis we are experiencing in our country. If we do not read about a leader channelling state resources or using his/her influence to benefit families and cronies then we are subjected to an absurd logic manifesting from the mouth of leaders. If we are not subjected to nude photos of ministers then we are subjected to photos of governors helping themselves to White Horse and Tasenberg during office hours. If we are not subjected to a finance minister acknowledging the success of an international thug in swindling N$20 million from state coffers then we are subjected to a scandalous silence of a sport minister on national football having collapsed.
If we do not read about struggle kids protesting for inclusion in looting and plundering then we are subjected to veterans of liberation struggle who have been informed that there might have been a dribble in what was due to them in 1989. If we do not read about more than 90% of teachers voting to go on strike then we are told of police officers scheduled to invigilate exams or we hear, through private moaning and groaning, tenderpreneurs at restaurants complaining for not being paid for work completed. I could go and on.
Scandalously, all these things do not matter to politicians. There is only one explanation; a third force that wants to disturb the government of a President who obtained more than 80% in national vote. There are no other explanations in the minds of intoxicated cheerleaders. The ever ululating and handclapping clowns seeking inclusion in the looting and plundering brigade will soon baptise international rating agency, Fitch, as part of those disturbing ‘peace and stability’. In the minds of these charlatans everything in Namibia, including high levels of inequality, is okay. South African prolific political scientist Prince Mashele has an explanation; “When a nation is sick, it is not easy to pinpoint the source or location of its pain. Invariably, politicians who wield power don’t like to admit that their nation is sick. Social disturbances are often reduced to the insignificance of isolated incidents. Those who take the trouble to point out that their nation is unhealthy are often dismissed as doomsayers with deluded minds. Given that we all receive information about national life from the media; journalists – especially those in the independent media – are the first targets of virulent criticism by those in power. Power does not like to be questioned. The idea is to manipulate your mind, to make you believe that our nation is always healthy.”
To serious observers of politics it has become clear that the current problems our nation-state is facing cannot be solved by the politicians we have in power. Unfortunately, the older politicians have recruited handclapping younger politicians to be included in the looting and plundering food web. It has become extremely difficult to distinguish these younger politicians from those that are 70. They have become a reproduction of the old. If those involved in the production of wine are to be asked to interpret this scandals this is likely to be their response; “old wine in new bottles”. Having successfully fumigated new and younger politicians to think and behave like the old, the situation is as good as declaring the young politician as non-existence. The only politicians worthy of observation, given the fumigation of the young, are the older politicians.
Are the older politicians, some of them as old as 78, going to solve our problems? Are they going to take us out of current economic and financial chaos? Are we not wasting our time by blaming them and expecting miracles from them? To answer this question we are not going to use complicated theoretical frameworks. We will use a simpler illustration for ordinary citizens to understand. Football is played for 90 minutes. There could be injury time or extra-time. Some mischievous youth call this ‘chaila time’. Look at it this way; if Real Madrid, in its champion league game against Manchester United, is to score five goals to nil by the 90th minute, what is likely to happen in three minutes of additional time? Are you likely to see Cristiano Ronaldo, having already scored a hat-trick, or Gareth Bale running with high speed as what he would do during the 10th minute when it was zero goal to zero?
Chances are, and followers of football are aware, that this does not happen often. What we are likely to observe is Cristiano Ronaldo showing off his skills and dribbling the opponents. This is called showtime where the winning team simply play for the sake of playing. Even the opponents, in their minds, have admitted that they have lost the game. It is the same with what we are facing today in our politics. Politicians who are in power, between the ages of 65 and 80, are like Cristiano Ronaldo during additional time. What they are busy with is showtime; dribbling and beating themselves on the chest as the ‘main-men’. They are not willing, and there is no reason, to run fast in solving the problems we are facing. They know that their time is up and it is a matter of time before the referee (read God almighty) blows the final whistle. It is, therefore, an absolute waste of time to expect our Cristiano Ronaldos in politics to run with maximum speed to score another goal for our redress, amusement and entertainment. Our Cristiano Ronaldos, and indeed our country, is operating on chaila-time/additional-time/extra-time. The sooner we, the 60% of the population (youth), realise this the better.
JOB SHIPULULO AMUPANDA
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015