14 thought leaders Friday, June 16 2017 | NEW ERA Where did we go wrong? (Part 2) We pause to say goodbye to Tatekulu Herman Toivo yaTovo, the co-founder of what later became a gallant liberation movement that shaped not only the history of this nation, but became synonymous with erudite treatises in international law to date. Herman ya Toivo was the most significant symbol in the case of South West Africa in international tribunals, just like Nelson Mandela was in the case of South Africa before freedom. All those who are speaking about the life of Tatekulu Ya Toivo are saying lofty things about this fallen hero who to all intents and purposes represented the people of Namibia beyond the confines of tribe, religion, gender, race and political party affiliation. In his latter days, Tatekulu exhibited a sad twinkle in his eye about the state of affairs of the nation today. In his genteel nonagenarian style, he was saying that the Swapo that we are led by today, is not the Swapo that he once dreamed to become a home for all Namibians. It is both important and necessary that we through his gentility, try to hear what the nation is saying right now. In his most unassuming manner as a living ancestor, he wished to bequeath unto us and the youth in particular, a sense of responsibility to think beyond the self, even if it required sacrifice and suffering, as he so admirably endured throughout his life. One way to show him our deepest respect is to be honest in naming what we see, what we hear and what we discern. Tatekulu was a decent man, honest with himself and those around him, even to the extent that he was self-effacing for the common good. The state of our nation is not in good health right now. What went wrong with the lofty goals of Solidarity, Freedom and Justice so ably punctuated by the gallant Swapo liberation movement? A growing chorus of people, within and without the current Swapo leadership, are in unison in admitting that what we have currently is not the Swapo they once knew. Most people blame it on the current party leaders with varying degrees of disenchantment and condemnation. It is therefore important for us all in our capacity as good and law-abiding citizens, and not so much as political party members, to do a proper diagnosis of the illness in which we all are now, before we fix it. We are all citizens first –leaders and followers as well as cynical opposition formations alike, we are in trouble together. One: We never learn to work with the best and continue to reinvent the wheel and still call it the wheel. For instance, the first crop of ministers and permanent secretaries in President Nujoma’s team were quality men and women. Instead of building upon that rock, we caused everything to deteriorate to mediocrity to blind loyalty to no contribution to fearpreneurship to jobs for comrades at the expense of national development and codification of national interests. This practice is costing us now dearly. Sadly, Namibians are willing to accept an assignment even if they know that they are not up to it. This intellectual dishonesty is costing us now in that the bureaucracy simply grows bigger and hydra-headed in quantity at the expense of quality. Two: It is true that our government management is not buttressed and accompanied by true public administration institutions with attendant importance of project management. Most of our state functionaries are sheer appointees of someone and they go to work in fear of the appointing master instead of following the language and dictates of strong institutions that are no respecters of human faces. Ask Donald Trump in a few months’ time to explain what it means that institutions are stronger than the individuals. In our case people think that they work for someone, and that somebody is not the Namibian citizens or taxpayers. In the end our public finance management is predicated on the assumption that political parties do not fear the people, but the people fear political parties. We have made certain choices and decisions that are now beginning to hurt us as a nation without a National Project. We have developed a political culture where knowledge and the contribution are not as important as party membership and blind loyalty. Hence our democracy is upside down and our national development planning strictly haphazard and episodic. Three: As a nation, we have lost sight of the bigger picture. All of us are centrally preoccupied with our own praise-singing and grandstanding, either because we have power or we have acquired wealth so much so that we are not ashamed even when we know that we are in positions of power not because we are the best, but because we snaked our ways through dishonest or cruel means. Hence we use power and material wealth to intimidate and manipulate others to accept us as legitimate post-liberation icons. Our intellectual and moral dishonesty goes so far that many of us cannot say no to appointments even when we know that we are not capable of doing what we are appointed to do. Both the appointer and the appointee are dishonest, yet continue to do things they know cannot serve the nation’s interests. Hence the nation is suffering the consequences of gross incompetencies in our legislative and executive organs of government. Four: Most of us as Afrikans are victims of the fear of the unknown. Hence we are focalised in the idioms of yesterday and yesteryear, cloaked in the rhetoric of the struggle for liberation such that even those who were not born when the struggle was not a hobby, are now claiming to have been part of it. We forget that the art of democracy is about managing uncertainty and going into an unknown future with rules and institutions, not persons who thrive on spooky and bangmaakstories. Five: In the last 27 years, we have failed to establish strong institutions as pillars of a democratic state. Instead, we continue to rely on fallible storytellers as our most reliable anchors. As they age and forget and even die, we are left without the foundations that can sustain us and our systems. We thus fall upon you-know-what – the politics of the belly? Then the one who causes more fear is the strongest – something that is wholly unsavoury and unsustainable. And when the chips fall down and we are called out to account for why we are the problem, we blame it on history –colonialism. Or agents of imperialism. Yes the imperialism that is long dead. Kaput! Six: Greed has become our most loyal companion. We seem not to have enough to eat – even after we are served three meals a day, we still want more, at the expense of others and social justice. How can the same people want everything all the time? The same political leaders are in business to frustrate the genuine entrepreneurs who wish to find solutions to problems and make a profit. No, it is the politician, the same member of parliament who is everywhere hassling for business. The political leader has become a cannibal! Maybe this has to do with our past of poverty. But other people in other civilizations were poor too but when they got power they used it to help others, not to eat all and alone until there is nothing left to steal. Eh, mbadi wakukuta? Seven: We continue to practise tribalism while we claim to be against tribalism. Just check how executive members of our system appoint to boards of directors and other entities people who speak their language or come from their ethnic group. Tribalism is so official that all our regional governors are appointed on a tribal basis. Some state offices may as well not use the official language English since all in the office speak the same language, yet there is no state mechanism to stamp this out. Eight: Those who can do not serve our leaders due to a lack of common ground. The leaders do not know who and how to ask for help for fear that they will be ridiculed, and those who can help are either too arrogant to appreciate that leaders do not have to know everything but know where and how to use competent people to achieve the national objectives. In the end there is no conversation between skills and leadership so much so that leadership is going one direction and skills the other direction. Our inability to craft strategies for sustainable development is due to the reality that those with ideas are not allowed to contribute. Instead we assemble people who have no knowledge or skills to assist with development planning simply because they are in the neighbourhood or are friends of someone. Nine: We never stretch our imagination and considerations about leadership beyond the known faces, and in so doing we restrict ourselves to the business we are familiar with and never venture forward. We keep doing the usual business and continue to get the same results – no progress. We keep on going forward in reverse, hoping and even claiming that we are covering some ground. Ten: We lack an ideological rectitude base and the fierce urgency of now as the basis of a better future! We care more about yesterday. Not today. Not tomorrow. Hence our succession planning is woefully underdeveloped, anti-youth and anti-future. In the past, our ancestors used to look after us. Not anymore, because they do not understand equality, the internet, globalisation and Donald Trump! One day we shall have to explain why we allowed this malaise to destroy the strong foundation upon which we started.
Friday, June 16 2017 | NEW ERA thought leaders 15 Homage to Ya Toivo superficial without serious soul searching Last Friday a dark cloud descended not only on Namibia, but on the entire African continent – and indeed, the international fraternity, when Herman Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo ultimately bowed out of the game of life. Surely, he was not just a Namibian nationalist and freedom fighter, but in the dictum of Africanists, such as Kwame Nkurumah, African liberation would not be complete until the whole of Africa was liberated. Ya Toivo surely must have been imbued by these words of wisdom, based on the indisputable premise that the African liberation jigsaw would only be complete with Namibia liberated, as well. Thus it was not incidental that he served 16 years in the notorious place of political incarceration, Robben Island, together with contemporary freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela, Hitjevi Veii and Ahmad Kathrada, to mention a few. These stalwarts together and under difficult prison conditions formed a formidable team of indomitable African lions and quintessential Africanists. Beyond being an Africanist and African liberation fighter, Ya Toivo, was an internationalist, because before the ultimate founding of Swapo in the late 1960s he was among those who established its precursors, the Ovamboland People’s Organisation (OPO) and the Ovamboland People’s Congress (OPC), which agitated mainly for the rights of contract labourers from the north. Ya Toivo died three days before the 121 st commemmoration of the political execution of erstwhile paramount chief of the Ovambanderu Kahimemua Nguvauva. Nguvauva died at the hands of a firing squad of the Schutztruppe, Imperial Germany’s colonial military troops in what was then German South West Africa. He was executed exactly 121 years ago this Monday in Okahandja, together with another stalwart in the resistance against German colonialism, Nikodemus Kambahahiza Kavikunua after the Battle of Otjunda on May 6, 1896, in which a German by the name of Lampe was killed. This angered the Germans, who subsequently embarked on a hot pursuit of Kahimemua, whom they captured at Omukuruvaro, and thereafter took him to Okahandja, where they executed him together with Kavikunua. During the Battle of Otjunda about 3,000 cattle belonging to the Ovambanderu were confiscated, while the total number of cattle confiscated from the Ovambanderu between 1896 and 1897 were later estimated at 12,000. The Battle of Otjunda led to the first exodus to then British Protectorate of Bechuanaland of the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu, respective followers of the two chiefs, Kavikunua and Nguvauva, who thus escaped extermination by the German military command and its indigenous allies at the time, which included a faction of the Ovaherero under Samuel Maharero, some Batswana and Nama. Thus, as the Ovambanderu and the wider Namibian fraternity converges this weekend at their holy shrine in Okahandja, in remembrance of the 121 st anniversary of the execution of erstwhile chief Nguvauva, and others like Munjuku II Nguvaauva, who were also laid to rest there, they cannot but also have in their deepest hearts, the memory of just departed Ya Toivo. But it is futile for Namibians to pay tribute to the likes of Nguvauva and Ya Toivo if we cannot emulate their heroism, as well as the good values and virtues they represented. Foremost among these values was volunteerism and self sacrifice; values that do not come easily to us these days. If one thinks of the rampant looting of the national wealth, it is a sad reminder of the decadence in which the country has been slowly regressing and deteriorating while the national coffers have been looted empty in broad daylight, like the recent disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars from SME Bank. It is a well known fact that these millions, unlike those who have been in charge of them would like us believe, are now traceless and must have been stashed somewhere in foreign safe havens, only to be reclaimed by the looters and their accomplices; this while the country is bleeding from deep budgetary cuts. The irony is that these very same looters are jumping on the bandwagon in paying homage to icons, like Ya Toivo. How dishonest! And most disturbing, those responsible shall never be brought to book. Certainly, given such elements - who would be the first to pretend heartfelt grief in the event of national losses, such as that visited upon the country with the bowing out of Ya Toivo - this country needs serious soul searching. This should be done if the homage we pay to our dearly departed heroes and heroines, and the annual pilgrimages to the shrines of many of our ancestors that we undertake, Climate change: shifting the paradigm There’s an old saying that ‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children’. Thus, each and every one of us has a responsibility towards the planet to ensure that future generations also experience the diversity of the environment and reap the benefits and abundance of natural resources. However, we have a common problem that is persistently growing and perpetuated by our activities, and that is human induced climate change. So, what we do individually and collectively as human beings has an effect on the lives and environment of other animal species with whom we share the planet. Most people would pose the question on what climate change is, former and current students and learners remember it as a topic from geography class focusing on the discussion of global warming and the greenhouse effect amongst other things. Some may see it as a foreign issue limited to scientists, students, and politicians. Other people also register it as modernday political rhetoric for international and global problems without having the fundamental and substantial understanding of its adverse impacts. In fact, most people will even question if it is really anthropogenic, or part of the cyclical nature of the planets temperature pattern. Rightfully so, given that there exists a gap between those with knowledge on climate change and those without. Institutions with the knowledge tend to rotate the information unintendedly within a small circle from academics to academics and research institutions to policy makers. Yet, you do not need to be an environmentalist, climate scientist, researcher, professor, politician or a student studying natural resource management and or other environment-related subjects to care about and take action on climate change. The politicisation and academic isolation of the subject has left the most important group out of the solutions, and that is you (society), the people on the ground, who can make a practical difference in combating climate change. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2014-2016 were the warmest years on record since 1880, while 2017 is predicted to have a 99.9% chance probability of recording warmer surface and atmospheric temperatures. A warmer temperature increases the rate of evaporation and the more water vapour we have in the atmosphere the more hospitable it becomes to other gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane further as we know water is a good conductor of heat. Warmer ocean water also drives floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. In a country, such as Namibia, with a high variable climate, it means climate change is expanding the natural variability and it becomes that much more intense and difficult to anticipate and prepare. With warmer waters the Benguela current that marine life depend on for survival will Deon Shekuza be negatively affected and we will see a reduction of fish stocks and that affects the fishing industry. Yet, climate change is not only limited to dry weather, such as drought or extreme cold events. That’s why global warming is only a part of it and deals with the increasing surface temperature since recorded models because if it were the only thing then those experiencing snow should be qualified as not impacted by climate change. One part of the world is cold today while the other is warm tomorrow anthropogenic climate change makes them intense and variable by increasing the intensity and predictability of its phenomenon, while also introducing new weather climate conditions not common in those areas. The impacts of climate change are mostly only being felt now in our generation and are predicted to get worse through climate models and other methods of environmental intelligence, so as our resources decrease so should our habits of consumption become more conservative. In times like this we should be inspired by nature and apply biomimicry, because as Leonardo Da Vinci said: “Nature always employs the most sufficient means to achieve her ends.” We must thus transition our industries into circular economies, where no waste is produced but becomes an input product for another. Water being a scarce resource in the driest country south of sub-Saharan Africa (Namibia) should become our “liquid diamond” and treated with utmost care. Improve on waste management at community and household levels, because there is no such thing as throwing away rubbish, unless you use the dustbin otherwise it ends up somewhere mostly in landfills and oceans. That is why we have recycling systems and making use of them is one of your downstream ways of taking action. Climate change has been studied and debated for decades and we can differ on the science and politics about whether it is humaninduced or not. We may have differences, but we all unanimously agree on the solutions. A practical and perfect example I always use is that we all do not understand the science behind the Ribonucleic acid (RNA), DNA, genomes, coding and integration of HIV/ AIDS cells. Yet, we all understand the benefits of protection or abstinence and consequences thereof. So, in order to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action, and interlinked Agenda 2063 aspirations let us not view climate change from a niche perspective, but focus on the solutions we need to start taking action on and the issue becomes part of the value system we share: including human rights, peace, housing needs, democracy, employment, education and others. * Deon Mandume Shekuza is a youth advocate and regional facilitator of the International Youth Climate Movement. He is a member of the Bottom Lining Team of YOUNGO to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.