• June 2nd, 2020

An ontological response to Margaret Mensah-Williams

Job Shipululo Amupanda
In 1997, celebrated Oshiwambo novelist and author Angula T. Ndjembo published an Oshiwambo drama titled ‘Okana oke eta ekumbu lyamwene’. 

Ndjembo summarised the book as follows: “The title of this Oshindonga drama means ‘be careful of your tongue – it can land you in trouble’. The play deals with a young, talkative and untrustworthy woman named Niingo, who is married to a man named Kasino. Niingo has a loose tongue and spreads rumours and fabricates stories about people in the village. Her behavior leads to both her and her husband suffering serious consequences. Yet Kasino loves Niingo very much and eventually teaches her a lesson which discourages her to behave in this destructive way.” 

The drama was so popular, and it so remains, such that many of us used it in analysing social conduct. Abie gwaNamene, a friend from Oongolo dhUumbishi village, still reminds me of this book whenever we meet. “Oka kulukadhi ka pota. Shampa ku uvu oohapu yo iinyafa omombanda, ko kedhi fale nale kaanamukunda”, he would describe Niingo’s character. Niingo yaNaanda was a talkative and irritating character. It was for this reason that Omuhongo residents, where Niingo and her husband Kasino kaAlugodhi resided, called her ‘kayale kopeendjila, oRadio yaKasino kaAlugodhi’ (the Radio of Kasino kaAlugodhi, one that transport stories). 

 During our days in the Swapo Party Youth League, two politicians, corruption-accused Katrina Hanse Himarwa and Margaret Mensah-Williams, resembled the character of Niingo yaNaanda in many ways - if Swapo is to be Omuhongo village, Swapo members Omuhongo residents and Kasino kaAlugodhi been Swapo leaders. 
The two politicians were leading cheerleaders whispering in the ears of President Pohamba, President Geingob and Nangolo Mbumba, then Swapo top leaders, to urgently suspend and expel us although not following their own procedures. 

Like Niingo yaNaanda who brought trouble to Kasino kaAlugodhi, Swapo leaders later learnt, through the 2016 High Court ruling, that the electrical tongues and the perpetual sensory whispering of the drama queens led them into hot water. Swapo leaders, like Kasino kaAlugodhi, and Swapo members, like the community of Omuhongo, indeed realised that the loudmouths are untrustworthy. 

During the Swapo Electoral College, the two politicians found themselves at the bottom of the parliamentary list although projecting themselves as one of the leaders whose sensory whispering does wonders. Mensah-Williams would pass through an eye of a needle winning a Swapo primary with only two votes.

Hanse-Himarwa would be demoted at the Swapo secretariat much to her disappointed. Although her sensory whispering powers may be keeping her in cabinet, it is not clear if she will carry the same skills and use them at High Court where she is a frequent visitor on corruption charges. 

Those who doubt the power of sensory whispering must tell us which other Minister in Namibia and SADC remained in office, missing cabinet meetings, and facing serious corruption charges in court – yet have courage to face society projecting herself as a symbol of morality. The only place where one finds such scandalous reality is in Angula Ndjembo’s book – the character Niingo yaNaanda, oRadio yaKasino kaAlugodhi. 

 Because Angula Ndjembo did not write another book that assists in understanding a situation whereby Niingo yaNaanda returns to her old ways, I had difficulty in understanding and theorising Mensah-Williams returning to Niingo yaNaanda ways. 

While we await elder Angula Ndjembo to publish volume two of ‘Okana oke eta ekumbu lyamwene’, an ontological response – dealing with facts, fallacies and realities – would be a sufficient response to Mensah-Williams’ poorly written diatribe on Activist Dimbulukeni [Nauyoma] and the AR movement as it appeared in  New Era newspaper on 25 January 2019, titled ‘political opportunism aimed at disturbing society’. 

In short, her article is an attempt to project the AR movement and land activist as anarchic and holding hypnotising power over the poor as if, in her myopic mind, they are unable to make up their own minds. As part of the political elite that has lost their moral compass, she was reacting to an incident whereby AR activist Dimbulukeni Nauyoma intervened to prevent the police from demolishing a home of a poor woman without a court order. 

Activist Dimbulukeni was then arrested. Her writing offer neither sympathy nor solution to the homeless and landless poor.
 In the first paragraph of her article she writes “….It is for this reason that we have what is called the rule of law, where laws are written and enacted to ensure that the society which makes up a nation dynamically advances in an orderly way.” This is a juvenile interpretation of the rule of law that sees it as uncritical submissiveness, to individuals exercising state power, leading to zombie-like robotic order. 

At the foundational level, the rule of law is conceived as opposed to the rule of man.  In other words, it is the law, and not individual whims, that governs society. To think that an activist must allow illegal conduct from someone just because they are in uniform or are state actors, rule of men, is indicative of the hollowness of Mensah-Williams’ mind. 

The rule of law is not just form, it is principally about substance. Accounting societal order to the rule of law is ahistorical and shallow.  How does one then explains the advancing of society, in Mensah-Williams’s ‘orderly way’, in autocratic states such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia and China – where the rule of man reign supreme with names of presidents enshrined in constitutions? She similarly continues to misdirect herself that “generations that follow existing generations in families, communities, societies and nations … inherit the very norms and values that have been put into place over time because it is these norms and values that have sustained the nation.” 

Our departed ancestor Frantz Fanon must be turning in his grave. Has Mensah-Williams not heard this message left by Fanon that “each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it”?
Imagine if Sam Nujoma and freedom fighters had followed Mensah-Williams’ advise of inheriting the norms of accepting the colonisers. Imagine if the Aambaanhu had accepted norms of carrying King Kamhaku everywhere and every time – Kamhaku whose saliva and mucus was, as a norm, spitted on someone for if it apparently landed on the ground the rain would not come. 

It was young Hainyavela who devised a plan and liberated the Aambaanhu from the tyranny of Kamhaku that succeeded because of inherited norms “that have been put into place over time”. Mensah-Williams’ narrow understanding of generations and social engineering belongs to the medieval period of history. 

Just because norms had sustained nations doesn’t automatically mean they are good. White supremacy sustained colonialism and created black inferiority complex for over 500 years. Feudalism, where children were born slaves, was accepted as norm and the feudal society advanced in an ‘orderly way’. 

In society, there are people like Mensah-Williams who follow norms, despite their content and character, and there are people like Hainyavela, Dimbulukeni and AR activists who challenge the very foundation of these norms. Mensah-William and her uncouth lot must be informed that we will be challenging norms and there is nothing she can do [about it]. 
Thomas Sankara told us that “a soldier without any political or ideological training is a potential criminal.” Mensah-Williams necessitate a remix of Sankara’s quote: A politician without any political or ideological training is a potential charlatan.    
 Listen to her sense of mathematics and her tracking of our constitutional amendments – she confidently writes, in 2019, that “the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia was amended twice, in 1998 and 2010.” 

It is shocking and indeed scandalous that Mensah-Williams, who is a Member of Parliament as Chairperson of the National Council, has not come across the Namibian Constitution Third Amendment Act (No 8 of 2014), five years later. We must immediately, as parents, correct this misinformation for our students studying law and political science might take this information as truth. It would appear that Mensah-Williams is ignorant of even commonplace facts, listen to her: “it is truly interestingly curious that a few hours in custody by a so-called land activist would result in hospitalisation”.  

It is only ‘interestingly curious’ if you do not understand how the law works, despite buying your toilet papers from lawmaking salary. She must immediately be directed to a court order by Judge Oosthuizen, available on e-justice, which directed the police to take activist Dimbulukeni to hospital. In the presence of a court order directing performance, it is only charlatans who would be ‘interestingly curious’ when a detainee is taken to the hospital and ending up hospitalised. 

There are many contradictions, inconsistencies and foolhardy assertions in Mensah-Williams article that one cannot exhaust.  At best, it is must be dismissed as a Niingo yaNaanda diatribe that is full of sound and fury but signifying nothing. It exposes the hollowness of the very politicians we expect to deliver prosperity to the mases of our people. 

 In her entire poorly written article, Mensah-Williams, a female politician, says absolutely nothing about a fellow woman whose home was demolished – an unemployed mother of two – just because she refused to have sex with someone close to power. Instead, she deals in generalities and offer political hooliganism. She says nothing about the 900 000 Namibians living in informal settlements including Otjomuise, in the constituency she gets a salary for. Unlike her who is running a constituency where she doesn’t reside in, activist Dimbulukeni stood up in the constituency of his birth to stand for the poor she knows.
* Job Shipululo Amupanda is an activist of the Affirmative Repositioning Movement. Follow him on Twitter: @Shipululo  

New Era Reporter
2019-01-30 09:49:38 | 1 years ago

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