CONTROVERSY has a way of obscuring inspiration. It’s hard to draw positive lessons from a life of a person, whose reputation often precedes them. A number of public figures have life stories that can serve as inspiration to many, but their depiction in the media sort of makes it difficult to see such.
Take for example one Job Shipululo Amupanda, the leader of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement. Despite his publicised controversies, Amupanda remains one of the most influential figures in Namibia, and to some extent the continent.
As a motivational speaker, I have always made it a point that I do not involve myself in politics. My only involvement in politics is on the day of elections, when I put a cross to exercise the right that Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Andreas Shipanga, John Otto Ya Nankudhu, Peter Nanyemba, Nehale Lya Mpingana, Hosea Kutako, Sam Nujoma, Hendrik Witbooi and many heroes of our struggle fought for. As a youth activist, I am familiar with a number of political systems and philosophies. However, it’s not important what I subscribe to.
I want to lift a few things from the life of Job Amupanda, which I feel can serve as inspiration to the youth of this country. I admire Amupanda for certain qualities that he has displayed. In 2014 Amupanda, as then spokesperson of the Swapo Party Youth League and Secretary for Information, Publicity and Mobilisation, was expelled from the SPYL, following his conduct, which was deemed unacceptable, and later resigned.
My interest is in the aftermath of his expulsion. Amupanda could have easily thrown a pity party and decided to wallow in self-pity and complain, and probably go cry foul at Omaala. However, he displayed courage, by getting up and dusting himself off.
Amupanda took the route less travelled, and challenged the status quo. He started mobilising alongside other youth leaders (George Kambala and Dee Nauyoma). He mobilised 14 000 people to apply for land at the City of Windhoek. He maintained his words and remained in youth activism, as per his political beliefs. This is what he wrote in his resignation letter in 2014, “As you are aware, attempts are made to place… principles on auction; to reduce me into a jacket, a consequence and extension of other people’s opinions. To reduce me into a silent zombie, with no opinion but to clap hands and sing songs. It is being made clear that I must appear indifferent, even when those we represent are desperately looking for someone to stand up for them. This, comrade secretary, I cannot allow. I refuse to turn the other cheek to be slapped… The situation has become untenable.”
AR, under the leadership of Amupanda and many other youth leaders, managed to stop the proposed construction on the parliament building that could have cost about N$2.2 billion of taxpayers’ money. AR advocated for residential land to be made available to all the Namibians. The government signed an agreement with AR to service 200 000 plots countrywide; this is remarkable. One of the solutions brought by AR was the proposed regulation of rental prices, by establishing a Rent Control Board. To me this is praiseworthy, as many poor citizens cannot afford to pay high rent.
Amupanda also didn’t let his expulsion remain.
He went to court and challenged it. Judge Collins Parker delivered his judgement in the case that the vibrant youth should be reinstated. This taught many never misuse their powers and disregard their own rules, as per the constitution.
It’s not a lot of people that are that brave. Courage is what makes great leaders. In an industry, you need courage. In sport, you need courage to end up winning the championship. You fight hard, despite the pain. You push the barriers. You give more. Life is not a bed of roses. Amupanda did the unthinkable, by challenging the same party that made him. In entrepreneurship, some of the successful individuals are those who left the comfort zone of their employers.
In the industry of vehicles, a number of mechanics started working for reputable companies. They started helping themselves to tools belonging to their bosses. The next thing, they are out there pushing their own workshops in the township. I am against looting. Like in the case of Amupanda, I challenge people to be innovative and move beyond the normal boundaries. Amupanda refused to accept the status quo.
Amupanda is fearless. He says the things that most people are scared to say. Fear is one of the most crippling emotions in life. I know of brilliant people who have not made progress, because they are scared. Sometimes you have to confront your fears and tackle life, push fear aside and pursue your dreams. Fear of failure has a number of people captured. Amupanda never allowed fear to capture him.
One area where Amupanda is an inspiration is his ambition for education elevation. Amupanda showed great discipline and example to young people, by graduating with his Master’s Degree in Political Science, from University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, and went to stay at his home village in Omaala for eight months, unemployed by choice. His approach to education sharpens the mind and encourages people to go to university, get a degree and start their business and create employment, not to be salary slaves.
Through the consortiums (200 youth enterprises in all 14 regions of Namibia, created by AR) he was able to provide direction for the youth to be able to create employment and achieve economic emancipation. He encourages people to study and acquire as much knowledge as possible, to enable them to change the status quo. He is currently the youngest Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of Namibia.
If you remove the controversy spectacles to look at Amupanda, you will find a fearless and innovative person. You will find a man who inspires.
*Tuhafeni George Dasilva Hishitelwa is a motivational speaker and author.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015