Where are SwapoÔÇÖs intellectuals?
More often than not most top guns within the Swapo have been talking about the party losing its soul. Some have spoken about lack of discipline within the party. What they are not saying is that Swapo has lost the command of national dialogue in form of setting the agenda.
Swapo has lost the command for the national discourse in mapping the way forward. The party, and they are not saying this too, has lost the command for the thought processes.
All these can be summed up and ﬁ t in one bag called ideology. It is all good that Swapo has an ideology school in Windhoek but the question is teaching what ideology? In the past, speciﬁcally during the liberation struggle, Swapo was guided by communism. This worked because people had something to hang onto just like most have the Christian god to lean on.
Communism was a lie, of course, but it provided some meeting point and reference. Unfortunately and sadly enough after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the death of Karl Marx’ age-old dream, Namibia and many other revolutionary parties that were founded on this ideology were lost wandering in the wilderness. Indeed, there is no rule of law or discipline in the wilderness where the natural law takes centre stage, that is only the ﬁttest and the strongest survive.
Aristotle, the Greek philosopher comes to at times like these ones. Those who have studied history will remember that it was Aristotle who tutored Alexander the Great. Once again, those who studied history will remember that Alexander the Great sought to reach the “ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea”.
Had he wanted, Alexander the Great could have easily achieved this goal because he believed in what Aristotle taught him about Ethos, Pathos and Logos. To a great extent, revolutionary parties used Aristotle’s approach to persuade people to lay down their lives for a cause. Young people left their homes and schools to pick up arms because they were made to believe in a greater cause for a common good.
One wonders whether Swapo and indeed any other revolutionary party still had the same appeal apart from peddling the fear that if the old people do not vote for the party the white soldiers will come back to harass them. In simple terms though, ethos that appeals to ethics, according to Aristotle, is meant to convince people about the strong character and credibility of an institution or an individual.
Pathos, Aristotle’s teachings go, appeals to emotions and should convince an audience of an argument by creating an emotional response. Lastly, logos is about logic and reason. It appeals to the voice of reason. All these three – ethos, pathos and logos – were used during the liberation struggle either by design and consciously or by accident. It worked because despite the apartheid South Africa’s tricks, savagery and determination to occupy Namibia, Swapo took them head-on. PLAN ﬁghters had no vehicles and shelter and uniforms and guns and shoes but they still fought the apartheid South African forces that were armed to the teeth, had guns and were well fed.
Some Swapo cadres died, while others were maimed but still more joined the war because they believed in Swapo’s goals and credibility. They were not afraid of putting their faith in Swapo. Indeed, Swapo appealed to young Namibians emotionally by laying down the wrong things the apartheid forces were committing as well as the injustices perpetrated on the innocent and unarmed peasants. Swapo was also the voice of reason at a time when nothing made much sense to the black child whose father was disrespected by even white boys and whose mother was looked down upon by young white female bosses.
The party explained why this was the case and what should be done to change it. Unfortunately and sadly, Swapo has lost of these three guiding principles and most people are asking today: What happened and why are we here and how did we get here? Nahas Angula and his brother Helmut have the answers to some of these questions.
They have both spoken openly and courageously about Swapo losing its soul. This means that the people do not seem to be convinced by Swapo anymore. It also means the people do not see any reason why they can still be singing and dancing for the party if years after independence their lot has not changed. Above all, it appears nobody can approach the people and assure them that it is the party that brought them independence and it is the party that will see them through these hard times. Frankly speaking, Swapo has lost the people and this is more so now when the people who used to be the vanguards of the party have either retired or given up to the tide of times and the new generation that has no inkling of what ideology is and should be.
While this is happening, Swapo has not changed a bit to ﬁ t into the new scheme of things. Swapo’s narrative has remained the same over the years such that most people know what will be said every time elections come. Swapo’s slogan has also remained the same for more than 50 years when it spoke to the harsh vagaries of those times.
This slogan does not speak to what is happening today and to those born after independence whose aspirations and goals are not the same as those of the gallant sons and daughters of this country who went to war. Former President Sam Nujoma does not miss the opportunity to talk about imperialism whenever and wherever he addresses an audience. While it is not clear if Nujoma will be referring to the current challenges, his constant reference to imperialism rings loud bells on what is happening today. In 2015, Nujoma said the confusion on the continent today is being caused by imperialists.
“The imperialist are at it again,” he said in an interview with a weekly paper. “They are after the oil and other resources. So we have to prepare to ﬁght. […] we now have to ﬁght scientiﬁcally. It’s no longer about guns.” This is where Swapo has to come in and marshal every support it can get from its intellectuals most of whom have gone silent are have been sucked into factional wars within the party. The so-called analysts are enjoying a monopoly of telling the people how things should be and what should be done.
Week-in and week-out, newspapers dedicated acres and acres of space to these so-called intellectuals whose ideas have never worked elsewhere and will never work anywhere. While this is happening, Swapo still boasts about bringing independence and making more promises of what the party wants to do. Damn, take control of the national discourse and direct the thought processes because this is what this era demands.