12 EDITORIAL Friday, June 16 2017 | NEW ERA Looking for new national heroes Many Namibian liberation heroes are in the evening of their lives, an uncomfortable reality of life. The death last week of Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, at the age of nearly 93, was a sad reminder of the gradual extinction of that crop of Namibian heroes. Namibia is drenched in the blood of revolutionary heroes - people who took up the cause of bringing about change in an existing system. The majority of such heroes excelled in the war of either resistance or liberation. For the war of resistance, it was the Samuel Mahareros, Hendrick Witbbois and others who were the champions. Ya Toivo, Sam Nujoma, Ben Ulenga, Hage Geingob and many of their peers became heroes in the war of liberation. They are revolutionaries who have been responsible for changes in the political, religious and even economic ideologies experienced in Namibia today, compared to how society looked like 50 or so years ago. They decided that they had had enough of the injustices enforced by a system and decided to – directly or indirectly – take steps to facilitate the removal of that system. But with war long gone, Namibia still faces revolutions in different spheres – be it in sport, politics or academia – with each one of those needing its own champions. In other words, revolutionaries cannot be confined to wars alone. Namibia needs heroes of science, engineering, commerce and agriculture. We need revolutionaries of technology and industry if our own industrial revolution, as is aspired in Vision 2030, is to be realised. Some of the key aspects that shaped the revolutionary acumen of people like Ya Toivo were fortitude, selflessness, patriotism and vision. The new heroes we’re in search of would have to possess such characteristics, else they won’t make the cut. It was because of such characteristics that Che Guevara, the legendary Argentinian political activist, gave his life for the downfall of imperialism and the establishment of socialism. It is through his relentless work that he became the countercultural symbol of rebellion and revolution. Namibia cannot afford to fall into the traps of other African nations who have failed to defend the legacies of their revolutionaries or produce replacements for their heroes. Present-day DRC is not a reflection of Patrice Lumumba’s ideals since his death in 1961. The loss of Felix Moumie in Cameroon, Sylvanus Olympio in Togo, Mehdi Ben Barka of Morocco and Eduardo Mondlane of Mozambique has left those nations broken in many ways. It is hard to find new heroes in a generation that cares more for individual parochial gratification than the greater good of society. This is a generation that would stare idly at injustices as long as their own well-being is secured. Many of Namibia’s liberation war heroes had their personal lives sorted. Geingob, Ya Toivo, Hifikepunye Pohamba and many others were schoolteachers with guaranteed income. But, rather selflessly, they observed that while they had a certain degree of personal gratification, their immediate compatriots did not enjoy the same economic and political liberties. They hence decided to quit their jobs and head into the wilderness to fight for the greater good of their country. Sam Nujoma, a revolutionary of global stature, left his young wife and kids behind and trekked through the jungles to find solutions to his country’s political problems. We need heroes of that magnitude in the fields that speak to the contemporary needs of our country. Andimba Toivo ya Toivo – a tribute Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, one of the revolutionary heroes who were party to propounding and presenting the ideas of modern nationalism that paved the way for the birth of national politics in its concrete form, is no more alive. I don’t claim to know this legend since I only met him for the first time in the UK at a solidarity function organised there by the Manchester City Council in 1986. It is on record that Toivo, based on his familiarity and exposure with South African forms of political organisation, was instrumental in introducing the idea of a unified liberation movement to political groupings in Namibia. He was a catalyst and founder of OPO established for the purpose of articulating the fundamentals of our people who were under racist colonial South African subjugation. It is on record that Toivo with late Emil Appolus and late Solomon Mifima conceived the idea of forming OPO in 1958 in Cape Town, but before the launching he was given 72 hours to leave South Africa on account of the petition (contained in the tape recording) that he sent to the United Nations to highlight the plight of Namibian people. Comrade Toivo would be remembered for having travelled to Namibia with Jariretundu Kozonguizi at the end of 1958 after his deportation in pursuit of putting into practice the idea of forming the first national liberation movement, which they had conceived in 1957 when Kozonguizi boarded with him and Solomon Mifima in Langa, Cape Town. In that regard, they stopped at Keetmanshoop to consult our communities and also met late Phillip Musirika before proceeding to Windhoek. It is in Windhoek that the idea was further put to Namibians in November 1958 where it was decided that Toivo should go to northern Namibia for mobilising our people. Being conscious of the ‘danger’ in ‘Ovamboland’ that would emanate from Toivo’s dynamism, youthfulness, energy and vibrancy, the racist Pretoria regime arrested him in Tsumeb in December 1958 where he spent his Christmas and New Year in prison. He was then transferred to Ovamboland where he was put under house arrest under the tribal leadership of Chief Kombonde since 1959. Toivo’s arrest and Kozonguizi’s departure for New York delayed the launch of one of the first national liberation movements, SWANU. In pursuit of the struggle for national liberation to the bitter end and also in fulfilment of the noble revolutionary task to its logical conclusion, Comrade Dr Sam Nujoma with Jakob Kuhanga took upon their shoulders the launching of OPO in April 1959 against all odds, which the field of scope presented, namely, the imperialist conspiracy and cold-blooded assassination. Toivo would therefore be remembered for having conceived the idea of national politics that paved the birth of “National Union” in the form of SWANU in September 1959 that was composed of OPO, Herero Chief’s Council and South West Africa Progressive Association (SWAPA), peasants, etc. This happened despite his absence on account of solitary confinement and house arrest. It is for this altruistic reason that I pay my tribute, Hamba Kahle!! Late Toivo would go in the annals of our history for having been one of the founding members of SWAPO when it was formed in April 1960 and arrested in 1966; Robben Island in 1968 on account of giving unconditional and unequivocal allegiance to the armed struggle launched in 1966 at Omungulubashe and imprisoned at notorious Robben Island where some of the cream of our revolutionaries such as Gerson Hitjevi Veii (of SWANU), Nelson Mandela (ANC) and Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe (PAC) were also imprisoned. It was with honour that subsequent to his release from notorious Robben Island in March 1984, in defiance of international sectarian politics that permeated our political landscape and rendered it an exclusive monopoly of some, he decided to make his first public pronouncement at the SWANU Extraordinary National Congress held on 1 - 2 September 1984. His decision to use this platform was triggered by the surreptitious promulgation by the puppet Turnhalle “National Assembly” of a repressive law, the notorious “Notification and Prohibition of Meeting Act” of December 1981 that was intended to emasculate the mobilisation programme of members of national liberation movements to a point of fatigue. This demonstrated unity of purpose in action – something we must emulate if we are indeed true lieutenants of his legacy. I wish to pay my tribute to this legend and revolutionary hero because of the way he handled the plight of late Comrade Gerson Veii in 2005/6, when it was brought to the attention of this nation. As a Minister of Prison and Correctional Services, he acted swiftly and late Comrade Veii was relocated from the farm to Windhoek and subsequently integrated with his former friends and comrades from Robben Island. It was never a practice amongst African warriors to mourn a fallen hero. It is in this context that I wish to pay my tribute by saying a revolutionary train will never stop for a fallen luggage however valuable it is. Thus we will not mourn your passing on, but will rather utilise your legacy to complete the unfinished business on our political menu. Suva Mohange – Let your Soul rest in eternal Peace. Long live the indomitable revolutionary Spirit of Cde Toivo ya Toivo. Dr Rihupisa Kandando Windhoek
| Friday, 16 June thought leaders Homage to Ya Toivo superficial without serious soul searching >> P15 Thinking about a nation without Toivo ya Toivo Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, a martyr leader in our fight for freedom departed earth a few days ago – surely content but also exasperated about the state of our nation. For a man who was ‘cut out of the same rock as Mandela’ as the Robben Island prison guard Christo Brand would say, his departure sharpens nostalgia. But more important, it should be a hiatus to reflect about our nation. When I think about a nation, what I have in mind is the idea the French philosopher Ernst Renan championed at the Sorbonne in his treatise ‘Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?’ (What is a nation?): a heroic past, extraordinary individuals, including a common desire in the present of wanting to do great deeds together. We have a past of glory, defeats and courageous individuals. Preceded by the January 1904 Herero Revolt, the Battle of Hamakari on 11 August 1904, 20 km south of the Waterberg plateau, the Herero warriors under Chief Samuel Maharero fought against the German Schutztruppe where many perished in the Omaheke. In the same vein, Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi rallied his people to free his land from the German imperialists. He died in combat in 1905. In their desire to defend their ancestral lands, the blood of the Herero and Nama people had been spilled across the vast expanse of central and southern Namibia, with the first seeking under Chief Samuel Maharero asylum in Bechuanaland (now Botswana). The first genocide and holocaust of the 20 th century was minted here in our land during that phase of primary resistance. Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Sam Nujoma with the latter under the tutelage of Chief Hosea Kutako, Gabriel Mbuende, Aaron Hamutenya were to lead the second phase for the emancipation of our people. Toivo ya Toivo and Sam Nujoma were competently assisted by Hage Geingob, Hidipo Hamutenya, Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, Libertina Amadhila, Nahas Angula, Peter Hitjitevi Katjavivi, Moses Makue Garoeb, Mosé Penaani Tjitendero, Anton Lubowski and others. The Mo-Ibrahim Laureate, Hifikepunye Pohamba would ensure that order prevailed. Under the command of John Ya Otto Nankudhu, the 1966 Battle of Omugulugwombashe in the Tsandi constituency of our country constituted the culmination of a people united and purposeful in their diversity to end South Africa’s occupation of Namibia. We ended that occupation in 1990. Our independence illuminates a history made of glory, defeats and courageous individuals. As the natural tenth in a line of nine, Toivo ya Toivo stands tall in the pantheon of Namibian heroes. The genocide of 1904-08, Omugulugwombashe, and what the Geingob presidency represents in firming up the foundations of a people united in diversity should disinfect our national conversation of the philistine petty-politics of ‘what is in it for me’. The nonsense about the Geingob presidency lacking vision validates a lack of far-sightedness and historical deliberation! In our attempts to build a nation we have to fight against the mind-numbing brute within us, pay closer attention to the tones of our past, interpret the meaning of our rich trove of memories, shared harm and heritage, and use these to mobilise for a nation. The battles of Hamakari and Omugulugwombashe as plural moments in our history ought not to divide, but harness the soul and principle of one nation. What we have been able to achieve together since independence has been significant. But certainly, not sufficient to lift the majority of our people out of poverty. The powerlessness of our public policies and inaction against the structural legacy of apartheid are certainly to blame. Still, when we think about a century of imperial and apartheid misrule and the blame it should shoulder, Toivo Ya Toivo’s caution about the waning integrity of our politics deserves serious interogation and action. There is hubris of which the consequences Ben Amadhila warned about a few weeks ago. Moreover, Nahas Angula has in recent weeks been counselling wisely about the potential decay of SWAPO in the absence of ideological clarity and a community of values. Angula is right when he argues that a ruling party whose elites are interested in access to state tenders and material accumulation, and not service to the vulnerable is bound to fail. He is also right when he says that we should allow President Geingob to serve a full two-terms if he so wishes. A feckless attachment to accumulation is certainly not what Toivo ya Toivo had in mind when he spoke before the court that would send him to prison in 1968: ‘Progress is something we shall have to struggle and work for. And I believe that the only way in which we shall be able to secure that progress is to learn from our own experience and mistakes’. What Toivo ya Toivo the teacher had in mind were genuine mistakes, and not of the sort that we manufacture by inflating tenders, allocating resources meant for the poor to ourselves, engineering efforts to demean and undermine the State President. Such rancorous conduct is thoughtless and could create a deficit of confidence in the ability of state institutions to deliver on their strategic mandate – sustainable development for all. The appeal of Toivo ya Toivo is for every day to be a referendum of what we should do together in building a stronger nation. As we marshal Toivo ya Toivo to a Heroes Acre filled with a rich trove of memories, we have learned from a humble master-teacher. It is the opportune moment to reflect on the ruptures that we must set in motion in order to build on the ideal of the nation – one for which he was stubbornly prepared to die. * Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari is a visiting fellow at Sciences Po Paris. He holds a PhD in political science from the Sorbonne. What makes a country ripe for a coup détat or revolt? There are pertinent questions, which beg clarification about the technicalities of coups. These include: what makes a country ripe for a coup détat? What should we look for? Hosmer, Hebditch and Connor (2001), identified the following ten characteristics as pre-conditions desirous in a country for a coup to take place and I will apply this to Namibia: 1. Is Namibia a former colony or overseas possession? 2. Does Namibia lie in tropical latitudes? 3. In Namibia, do we have tribal, ethnic or religious divisions? 4. Does Namibia have substantial natural resources, especially oil or diamonds? 5. Does Namibia have endemic corruption and nepotism? 6. Is Namibia strategically located? 7. Does Namibia have a long-term despotic regime? 8. In NDF, do we have army staff officers trained overseas? 9. Does Namibia have finance available for mercenaries? 10. Did Namibia had a coup détat previously? The more answers in the “yes” column, the more susceptible the country under examination is to coups or counter-coups. For the record, Equatorial Guinea hits nine checks in the “yes” column out of the ten possibilities above – the only “no” being in regard to strategic location. Some of the above might seem curious or arbitrary, such as number 2 on the list: “Lies in tropical latitudes?” Consider, however, that many countries in this geographical sphere were colonised by England, Spain, France and Portugal. Let us conceptualise coup détat and revolution The definition of a coup détat is sufficiently captured by Edward Luttwak, who in his seminal publication, Coup détat: A Practical Handbook, defines it as follows: “A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which Charles Siyauya is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder.” More often than not, the method utilised to gain control is illegal and revolves around violence, or at least the threat of violence. Thus a coup détat can also be defined as the seizure of an existing government by a small group, or the sudden violent overthrow of a legitimate government and political power by through extra-constitutional measures and by the military. A coup usually involves a few elite members of the society, but leadership and direction of a coup is normally in the hands of military and police commanders. It is possible to have some remnants of overthrown civilian authority participate in a coup, with an explicit example of the former minister of defence of Algeria, Houari Boumédiène, who seized power with some military commanders in 1965. The revolution and revolt is a change in government brought about by mass protests, such as Serbia in 2000, Argentina in 2001, The Philippines in 1986 and 2001, Bolivia in 2003 and 2005, Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004/2005 and Ecuador in 2005, and most recently in the Middle East, is not technically a coup. These popular uprisings, which force the incumbent leader’s resignation, so that an unknown, uncontroversial interim leader can govern until formal elections are held, are considered revolts or revolutions, not coups détat, because they are not military actions. The term “revolution” has gained certain popularity, and many coups are graced with it, because of the implication that it was “the people” rather than a few plotters, who did the whole thing, but this is just cosmetic. (Luttwak, 1979) A successful revolution or revolt runs a risk of being met by a veto coup from the military or a countercoup from an opportunist. A classic example of this type of occurrence would be Napoleon’s rise to power during the chaos of the French Revolution and Egypt in 2011. Why does the subject matter? Nationally, this article is of great significance to Namibia, as it offers a critical yet independent analysis of conditions which can promote a coup détat and the proper role of the security apparatus in a democracy. The national government may thus diffuse dangerous conditions and apprise the military class of their constitutional role in democratic Namibia. The actual technicalities of coup strategising, planning and execution enables the government to enact legislation, which counters such moves and keeps mercenary work or citizens with coup détat ambitions at bay. Security apparatus reform and democratising the sector, as well as a clear way of handling disputes, such as the land question and citizens’ grievances’ in Namibia are options, which can be availed by a deeper analysis of the current situation. Most importantly, the government would be provided with robust policy options and response to coup détat, which will enhance people’s power and democracy. * Charles Siyauya possesses a Master of Arts Degree in Security and Strategic Studies from the University of Namibia’s School of Military Science.