• July 2nd, 2020

Evolution of politics is not through love: A response to Mensah-Williams

Vitalio Angula

 “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” 
Although the preceding scripture was set in an entirely different context, I will endeavour to reach in an attempt to rebut Margaret Mensah- Williams’ assertion that ‘the evolution of politics is through love’ as published in the New Era on 15 February 2019 - ironically a day after the day of St Valentine. 

The Kumbaya approach of singing ‘we shall overcome’ whenever faced with the insurmountable problems of disenfranchisement and social exclusion has never served Africans well in the past, neither will it serve us well in the present. 

The words, “The world suffers violence and the violent take it by force” has context in the struggle for Namibia’s independence where, had it not been for the violent armed struggle waged by the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia, Namibia’s independence and Apartheid South Africa’s illegitimate mandate of the territory would have been delayed further past 1990. 

It is through violent armed struggle that  negotiations for Namibia’s independence began to bear fruit and if need be it will be through violent struggle that Namibia will begin to move towards a greater equitable distribution of the country’s resources such as land, access to opportunity and social mobility.
The wide economic divide between the haves and have nots, measured using the Gini co-efficient, ranks Namibia as the third most unequal country in the world. 

Inequality is a result of a government and leadership that is out of touch with the lived realities of the everyday Namibian experience because it has not done enough to uplift those still at the bottom of the social economic ladder. A leadership that preaches love when the majorities are hungry and screaming ‘give us land or food!’ 

The Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs that places food, clothes and shelter as the basic motivation for human beings cannot be taken as an absolute given and should not be mistakenly used as Mensah-Williams does when she asserts that “human beings exist to live a fruitful and victorious life”. 

The Pentecostal approach of prayer as a solution to Namibia’s developmental challenges is delusional and Mensah-Williams as an authority should exercise restraint and distinguish between her personal beliefs when commenting on serious matters in the public space.

Religion has its place in the churches and mosques but in public discourse it should only be consumed in limited doses. Religion never served the poor well except for telling them to accept their lot and await a better day and a reward in heaven, as she asserts in her article that “the masses should remain calm and dignified instead of being drunk and dizzy with anger”.

Anger is justified in the face of oppression and cannot be downplayed as a rude response to draw the attention of those who ignore the needs of the majority. Anger births violence and violence has proven to be an effective response for the downtrodden to get their fair share of the national cake.

Problems are problems and Mensah-Williams should not be condescending in her approach to interest groups by seeking to distinguish between real problems and fake ones. Every individual’s problems are the worse for them. Problems are best felt by the beholder. 

Mensah-Williams posits that “as leaders on all levels of government we are committed to poverty alleviation…..”. The argument in itself is fallacious and devoid of any truth. It would be safer for her to speak for herself and say she is committed to addressing unemployment, gender-based violence, etc. 

Leaders at different levels in government are committed to getting a salary, a tender, a house, a car, a wife, a farm, a position and membership to the higher echelons of society. 

Different people are motivated by different things but what is required from government leaders should be a commitment to serve in the interests of the people. Part of service entails listening to other people’s viewpoints, even those who you may not like because of their insults and lack of a good early childhood instruction.  Part of serving in elected positions is acknowledging that the state can do better and should do better.

To ignore the urgency with which the poor and marginalised demand social inclusion is to ignore that it only takes one villain to channel his anger and hatred into a movement of sorts that has the potential to ignite a fire that will not be as easy to put out. 

It is well intended to write and persuade the masses to refrain from insulting leaders, but humans work in the manner that when your pleading seems to be failing, you rely on insults. What comes after insults may be violence, a situation we must avoid at all cost.
*Vitalio Angula is a socio-political commentator and independent columnist.  

New Era Reporter
2019-02-22 09:25:02 | 1 years ago

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