Selfish Elders Use Blackmail As Respect [opinion]

I RECENTLY participated in an intellectual discourse organised by the Labour Research and Resource Institute (LaRRI) on identity and culture.

I told those in attendance about my cherished view of patriotism, as provided by the late Chinua Achebe, that a patriot is not proclaimed as such by a scornful politician but is “a person who loves his country”.

“He is a not a person who says he loves his country. He is not even a person who shouts or swears or recites or sings his love of his country. He is one who cares deeply about the happiness and well-being of his country.”

More importantly, patriotism “is an emotion of love directed by a critical intelligence. A true patriot will always demand the highest standards of his country and accept nothing but the best for and from his people. He will be outspoken in condemnation of their shortcomings without giving way to superiority, despair or cynicism.”

At the event, one youth asked me: How can we love our country when the situation does not allow us to do so?

Indeed, this youth was referring to youth unemployment, poverty, hopelessness and general despondency juxtaposed to what youth refers to in clubs as eemane otadhili oshilongo (the selfishness of our beloved elders).

When youth state this reality, they are quickly blackmailed as “disrespectful and without manners”. When youth seek accountability on the part of undelivering elders, the response is a gun loaded with “respect”.

The selfishness of the elders is not hard to comprehend. A friend teaching at a rural school tells a story of his Grade 8 pupil who wrote an essay titled “My Country”. According to her, the essay by the 12-year-old did not have kind words for our elders who are charged for giving each other money through “their ministry”.

Those who may see this as oversimplification must tell us how to make sense of the recent news of constitutional amendments only to self-interestedly accommodate the to-be-victims of 5050 representation. Surely, this process will be very fast because it is in their interest. If reports of VIP, airtime and other proposed benefits-for-life are a media hot-air, then our capital city is Ouagadougou. What about the youth, Namibia’s majority? You may wonder! It is as if young people are foreigners in their own country.

Bills that economically benefit black people in general and youth in particular are withdrawn from parliament while those benefiting elders are accelerated. Those that disagree must tell us what happened to the BEE Bill and the Tender Boardrocurement Bill. Although the above is fact, it is “disrespectful” to criticise elders, it will be said.

Scandalously, observing Namibian youth (including leadership) is like watching the Idols TV competition where thousands of youths come for auditions knowing well that only a handful will be chosen. Instead of pursuing a generational revolutionary agenda, youths are wasting time auditioning for crumbs.

As I write, many are salivating and jostling for parliament positions even the not-gifted among us. Again, like in Idols show, there are only few positions available. When I told some that I am not interested in a parliamentary seat, they looked at me with enlarged eyes as if they had swallowed a hot potato.

The middle-aged is no different. Having succumbed to “respect blackmail”, their survival depends on constantly being seen to be anti-youth and pro-elders. This is no accident, the history of post-independence youth politics reveals that the youth were always polarised for the interest of the elders.

As the saying goes, wherever there is disorder someone rejoices. As this theatre continues, owners of the means of production are rejoicing. They know that the only constitutional amendments in the horizon will be for elite parliamentary seats, not for land reform or indigenisation. They get infant industry protection for chicken while subjecting the rest of the population to high chicken prices.

Had it not been for their revolutionary fighting spirit, natives like Sydney Martins would be economically flushed out and restricted to selling kapana in Katutura 24 years after independence.

That youth are frustrated is an understatement. Our message to them is: “This too shall pass”. We must give them information and seriously provide them with inspiration. They must be alive to opportunistic formations posing as messiahs. Our youth leaders must understand that the Idols Show cannot improve our collective lot.

There is nothing for us all unless we radically transform the very foundation creating our oppression. Those who side with other generations today, auctioning ours in the process, will be recorded and treated accordingly in our epoch. Our message to the youth must be clear: We have an appointment with the future.

Job Shipululo Amupanda is a leftist youth from Omaalala village in northern Namibia. He is a member of the Swapo Party Youth League executive. Follow him on Twitter

Source : The Namibian