2012: Lessons to the Malema generation

The re-election of the South African President Jacob Zuma as the leader of the ANC this week has three implications or lessons for wayward youths who run ahead of their elders.

Zuma trounced his former deputy Kgalema Motlanthe and all the nominees who had the backing of the ANCYL exactly the same way those elected by the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) lost in Namibia. Under normal circumstances I am very calculative, calm and composed in my writing. Something I can not guarantee the next person in a one-on-one situation. I am from the school of thought which suggest that "once you see a snake, you do not wait to appoint a committee to deal with it. You can even take omupini and deal with it." In other societies they would do the opposite as they even keep snakes as pets. That is oshidhila (a taboo) in my village.


Coming to Windhoek in 1988 to look for work, a mirror of my father stood in my way in many ways. Those were the days of "Comrades shall share phenomena". I had my fare share. As a tradition, aluhe manga inoo ya miita, kondjembo oho kuthako onguthi (to make sure that your gun is battle ready, you fire in the air).


Allow me to pay tribute to a forgotten son and hero of my generation (especially to those of us that did not make it in exile and lived beyond the red line) during the struggle.

I learnt to appreciate the difference between an intellectual giant and an academician from late Comrade Gabriel Nuunyango Shikongeni. Indeed giants don't die. Oya fa tango ta li ka pa oyana (they are like the sun setting). Tomorrow shall dawn. He would say, shi shina oshilonga paife is not what you want to become, it's the role you have to play now for the freedom and independence of your country. Your children are going to ask you one day as to what was your role during the struggle.  Had it not been for him, some of us would have grown up in villages like (Oshitapo) Oluno, with knowledge limited to military activities more than anything else. I knew what was happening in the SWATF as much as I knew what was happening in PLAN. He came into my life and literarily taught me anything I know about politics today. My story is no different from many young people in the militarised area, beyond the red line. Nuunyango is the man who introduced political activism among the learners and students in the same. To many of us, he is the father of Namibia National Student Organisation (NANSO). Don't believe anything you hear about leaders having been active in the country during the liberation war without direct mention of Nuunyango whom we came to know only as Shikongo. He is the main reason for Secondary School strikes in the late eighties in the north. I am reminded of him every day. Hence I have decided to write a letter to my first born who is an ANCYL activist.


JW-Long time no hear. How are the revolutionaries doing?

Son: Except for Zuma winning, I am cool. And that side?

JW- The capitalists and tenderpreneurs are doing extremely well.

Son: Daddy, only us the future generation shall feel the negative effect of your decisions.

JW- Just learn to appreciate the wisdom of your ancestors that "shatulwa metiti omukuntu eshi tulamo." Yours is to reason with them and not against them. That is the same formulae the forerunners of the revolution used to achieve independence.  But in order to find a away around them, you have to be patient and disciplined. Discipline in that you should first and foremost invest in getting to know the true colours of people you confide into.

Son: That is the archaic way of doing things. We are in the 21st Century.

JW: Young man, nothing has changed. In one of the villages, they have a say that "just show me your friends and I will tell you who you are." You become what you are because of the type of books you read. And perhaps the newspaper you  read. All this defines you. Watch the company you keep.

Son: But daddy you have always been emphasising the question of ohungi.

JW- Exactly my point. If you become a product of some of those platforms where everyone is wise and a leader, you become a product of oohungi oombwiinayi.

Son: Indeed politics is a game played by many and understood by few. We eagerly await to see if we can define our own capitalism that will be progressive on this land and not the prescription from the West.


JW- Politics is won by consensus. Getting into the leadership doesn't necessarily make the most creative and top goal scorer like in football. The end result in defying to play with others in any game has the same results as defying to marry against the wishes of oohogona. Given that you futuristic, I have no doubt that you will live long enough to appreciate your kids or grandchildren reminding you of how you missed the point 30 years ago (today). I have lived long enough to know that blessings counts more than capitalist. If I were you, I would accumulate more of the former in order to know how to handle the latter. If you are allergic towards the latter, forget about leadership outside your own circle, otherwise you will end up becoming the casualty of your congress. You become a casualty not because you were supporting a loosing horse, but simply because of your behaviour during your campaign.

Do not worry much. That is just the wheel turning. You are probably just getting the taste of your own medicine. Remember how you were going on when you emerged as a victor from the previous congress. Just lay low for the next five years and wait for the next wave. Don't be tempted to form a breakaway political party. Go to the winning team ndee eto gwaya evi (humble yourself). The winning team is wise and big enough to know that hono okaana ka li ta ka lilile ombele ndele eta key pewa kiittete kokene. They knew long before you were born that their ancestors would never betray their own social order by allowing the fruits of your ohungi to see the light of the day.


Son, all what has happend is that the ancestors have provided you a second opportunity for you to occupy your rightful place, as a follower. Whatever you do, do not inimpila aakuluntu okwaako. They have probably made worse mistakes in their lives to know what they know today. The difference between you and their generation could be that they know the power of okugwaya evi. Remember kutya as human beings, we are from the soil. Also take note that they know the difference between oku gwaya evict nokwiimbetapo. Nothing is permanent. The victors got five years to prove their worth. They know too well that the nation is not willing under any circumstance to breach the policy of national reconciliation. However, you also know what you have been saying sometimes about the former masters not doing anything except body check. They also have children who are bound to be mischievous just like you were during your campaign. Who can survive leadership without a blue-eyed boy? No one. Even the other camp had blue-eyed boys and girls. The only difference was in the approach. They chose to inspire the delegates. Whereas your behaviour frightened the living hell out of them. I just hope you have learnt not to ever flirt with the intellectual instinct of the grassroots. If you are not careful, your academic intellectualism can be your greatest underminer.


Let me guarantee you one thing. The country is happy. So should you. It's your Party.

Motlanthe’s political career, if Zuma does not feel pity for him, will crashed together with the political careers and ambitions of all those who had taken on the anti-Zuma factions.

But the biggest loser is the expelled ANCYL President Julius Malema who had his sight set on Mangaung for a come-back after his visionary defeat of Zuma.

In July this year, Malema told BBC Focus on Africa TV programme that he would be back into the ANC in December once Zuma has been removed from power.

“I'm coming back to the ANC in December once we've removed President Zuma," he said during his visit to the UK.

Mangaung has come and Zuma has won with a wider margin than he did in Polokwane when Thabo Mbeki was kicked out.

On Monday this week, after reading the signs, Malema and his lieutenants -Floyd Shivambu and Sindiso Magaqa - appealed to the ANC to take them back.

In a letter they submitted on Sunday when the ANC Elective Congress opened at Mangaung, they asked the party to ‘reverse the outcomes... that culminated in suspensions and expulsion from the ANC’.



“As loyal members, we are expected to exhaust all internal ANC processes before we explore any other different platform,” they wrote.

But with their militancy and arrogance, anybody who listens to their pleas would be foolhardy.

The other thing the Zuma struggle for the control of the soul of the ANC was the intense media campaign that reached fever pitch weeks before Mangaung.

Most media had to dig deeper for old news which they recycled just to make sure that Zuma would not be re-elected.

Nothing was left in the media book of tricks when it came to pushing an anti-Zuma stance. Inkandla came up. All Zuma’s financial transactions were brought up.

But the people spoke and Zuma emerged victorious.What happened in South Africa is typical of what happened here in Namibia in the run-up to the Swapo Party Elective Congress.

The SPYL’s campaign call was that voting for Hage Geingob was selling the country to the capitalists. Just like the ANCYL, the SPYL went on a rampage to denigrate and dirten other politicians’ names just to push up their agenda.

Much of the discussions done on Facebook, just like Malema and his lieutenants – showed no respect for the elders most of whom were practically involved in the struggle. That is how I regard 2012. Son, the fact that your pie can reach a meter away from you does not necessarily means you are an expert in the same. Equally that is no reason for you to laugh at me simply because mine can only reach as far as my shoes. Slowdown!


John Walenga is the publisher of The Villager newspaper and Prime Focus magazine in Namibia:-. Reach him on twitter @walenga2 Facebook johnndadalawalenga