Before there was Ananias Nghiﬁtikeko there was Hishilayi, JA Ipawa, Swapo Cadre and Pro-Democracy and now there are several other faceless and shapeless forms masquerading as anything but informed cadres.
Hishilayi, JA Ipawa, Swapo Cadre and Pro-Democracy were very active around 1997 when Hage Geingob took on the late Hendrik Witbooi for the party vice presidency.
At the time, these faceless and shapeless forms used the conventional form of communication at the time – letters. Just as it is now, Hishilayi, JA Ipawa, Swapo Cadre and Pro-Democracy targeted Geingob. Just like now, the birth of Hishilayi, JA Ipawa, Swapo Cadre and Pro-Democracy was just a few months before the Swapo elective congress. Ananias Nghiﬁtikeko came around 2004 when the late Hidipo Hamutenya sought to be the Swapo Party vice president.
At the time, Hidipo was taking on former President Hiﬁkepunye Pohamba. Unlike those before him/ her, Ananias Nghiﬁtikeko had the advantage of using the email. These he sent out to various government departments and individuals. If at all there was someone so vile, that person is Ananias Nghiﬁtikeko whose accusations caused Swapo Party to declare that they would ﬁnd out who was behind this faceless and shapeless individual.
Ananias Nghiﬁ tikeko’s last email in June 2004 said: “Therefore my beloved comrades this is my last exposure and depending on how things develop in the next months or weeks, I may or may not return.” Ananias Nghiﬁtikeko was never found and he or she emerged in 2012 before the elective congress. By then he had lost his sting because he did not make much damage despite being on Facebook.
There were others among them TKZ Nangolo, who was clear that Ananias Nghiﬁtikeko had taught him how to utilise the social media to express himself. TKZ Nangolo admitted that Ananias Nghiﬁtikeko had taught him a lot on the tactics of using “the Internet as a source of our freedom of expression”.
It was TKZ Nangolo who popularized phrases such as the ‘Kwanyama clique’ and ‘Omusati clique’ in his diatribe against the late Hidipo Hamutenya.
Currently, there are a lot of voices peddling information using everything they can have access to. The medium is different now but the core of the message remains the same – Swapo elective congress! And for the second time around, Geingob has been caught up in the ‘cooked up’ exposes that have put the journalism fraternity to shame.
Although this could be a stretch of the mind, one cannot rule out that the same people who were behind all the other faceless and shapeless individuals could be the same behind the latest ‘breaking news’ items. If such people are not hands-on today, they at least have a hand or a mind in the origins of these ‘exposes’.
Of course, there are newcomers in the fray today, but these too are learning from those who have evolved from letter writing to emails and now to Facebook, Twitter and many other sites. This argument holds water because Geingob has been the target on two occasions and unlike back them, the people who were against him were not known. Today, however, they are known.
Can one then say Ananias Nghiﬁtikeko has found reason to return after that June 2004 email where he said “depending on how things develop in the next months or weeks, I may or may not return”? Whatever the case, all what is happening goes a long way to show that these are terrible times not only for the country but the journalism fraternity when the social networking sites have turned any Jack and Jill into a disseminator of information.
Today’s faceless and formless individuals spew anything and everything from tribal venom to political diatribe. They target anything and anyone from their counterparts, bosses to the government ofﬁcials. They do so without any shred of shame. The question today however is: To what extent does this go in dividing the country and causing despondency and alarm?
The government does not need to regulate social media because this is a free society. This is what makes Namibia such a great country. But given all the freedoms to speak our minds, one would expect that Namibians need to exercise caution in what they say and when they say it.
This is called self-regulation or self-respect. Of course, there some comedians on social networking sites these days but the difﬁculty is in telling when one is being comical and serious. The deluge of information being dumped on Facebook, twitter and any other site is just too much to digest and analyse. This leaves room for most people to believe whatever is thrown at them. One good example of what is happening in Namibia today is what happened in the US before Donald Trump was elected.
It is not that Donald Trump is a great leader by any standard but his election was pushed by faceless people who created news. Donald Trump himself calls it fake news while forgetting that it was the same fake news that opened the doors to the White House for sorry butt. Point is that people are angry and that is as natural as going to the toilet.
Be that as it may, there should be no reason to throw both the baby and water. People do not always agree but whatever disagreement there may be, people should learn to engage in a mature way without name-calling. It is true that just others before them, those peddling the breaking news stuff will fade in time and the country will come to its senses.
Gabriele Boland writing in Newswhip in May this year said while there has always been fake news, but today’s politics have thrown brands’ political leanings into question too. Chong Lip Teck, the lead writer for Malaysia’s Sin Chew Daily wrote in the Strait Times in May this year too where he said that at the end of the day, the readers and netizens should have a better understanding about the media. “The root cause of fake news spreading widely and quickly is a lack of understanding.
The public is unable to identify fake news or do not know how to verify it or boycott those who spread it,” Chong wrote. Contributing to Forbes magazine, Kalev Leetaru said: “We all like to think of ourselves as logical rational beings that consume the factual information that surrounds us and make correct decisions supported by truth. The problem is that in the general case this could not be further from reality.”