In a national consciousness infested unsuspecting political society
Why is Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, still remembered long after he was overthrown and his body decomposed in the swallowing land of his home village, Nkroful? Since Nkrumah, Ghana had more than 10 Heads of State, including Hilla Limann.
Who remembers, let alone heard of, Hilla Limann, who was president of Ghana from 1979 to 1981? He was an accidental leader who assumed presidency by chance. Accidental leaders assume power either by chance or because they are parachuted by ‘strong men of politics’.
Limann is not one of those fondly and favourably remembered by the pens of history. Indeed, history does not remember one merely because he/she was a president. Those who disagree must tell us who fondly remembers Hifikepunye Pohamba, the second president of Namibia, currently involved in local squabbles at Helao Nafidi Town Council?
Unlike these class of leaders, we remember Nkrumah not because he was president but because of the ideas he represented and left behind. In the realm of ideas, Nkrumah reigns supreme as the only African president who has published significant ideas that still reverberates today.
His books are required readings at many African universities. In 1964, Nkrumah published a philosophical text titled ‘Consciencism’, dealing with the philosophy and ideology for decolonisation and development of the African revolution. In this text Nkrumah submits that: “The evaluation of one’s own social circumstances is part of the analysis of facts and events, and this kind of evaluation is, I feel, as good a starting point of the inquiry into the relations between philosophy and society as any other. Philosophy, in understanding human society, calls for an analysis of facts and events, and an attempt to see how they fit into human life, and so how they make up human experience. In this way, philosophy, like history can come enrich, indeed to define, the experience of man.”
For our context, Nkrumah expects of us, in analysing our society, to look at actions of political actors beyond pedestrian observer perspective. Indeed, the events and facts are to be analysed with an objective of providing a philosophical interpretation and meaning on human experience and social circumstances. Frantz Fanon, in The Wretched of the Earth, understood why political conduct needed to be critically analysed, more so in a post-colonial context.
He wrote in 1963: “We have seen that nationalism, that magnificent song that made the people rise against their oppressors, stops short, falters and dies away on the day that independence is proclaimed. Nationalism is not a political doctrine, nor a programme. If you really wish your country to avoid regression, or at best halts and uncertainties, a step must be taken from national consciousness to political and social consciousness... a bourgeoisie that provides nationalism alone as food for the masses fails in its mission and gets caught up in a whole series of mishaps.”
The Namibian political society fits Fanon’s characterisation outstandingly. Entangled in the heroism of nationalism and a national consciousness characterised by ‘chest-beating’ self-glorification, post-independence elite pact prevented a trajectory from national consciousness to social and political consciousness.
Such a trajectory, in any case, would not be in the Swapo elite interest for it used national consciousness politics to hoard a plethora of rents for its patronage networks. In his 2011 article titled ‘Namibia: A trust betrayed – again?’ published in Review of African Political Economy, political scientist Henning Melber corroborates: “Liberation from colonial rule is perceived as a kind of ‘end of history’. It resulted in a political project devoid of any meaningful agenda for socio-economic change beyond the pursuance of own narrow interests by the party leadership and its clientele. Namibian elite politics of a new class in the making has perpetuated deeply rooted, structurally anchored socio-economic inequality at the expense of the majority of the people.”
In an environment infested with national consciousness politics and heroism, suspect and hogwash ‘ideas’ are certified as progressive once uttered by ‘tried and tested cadres’. In such an environment, the masses are often unsuspecting for there was never an occurrence, similar to nationalist struggles, which sought to enlighten them to bring about social and political consciousness – a consciousness that will assist the masses by factoring in, in their political choices, their material conditions.
Given that citizens are still stuck in nationalism politics, politicians in Namibia have understood that they do not need to rationalise their conduct, behaviour and pronouncements. They can be as reckless, in the extreme, for there would be no political ramifications. It is for this reason that politicians take public platforms to project themselves as enlightened and clever even when the evidence suggests otherwise.
Examples are warranted. President Hage Geingob was recently caught on video, promoting personal rule over the rule of law, ordering Windhoek municipality to reinstate and drop corruption and other charges against top officials. Geingob has no power, in terms of the Local Authority Act (23 of 1992) to issue such decrees. When questioned by the enlightened, he summoned the national broadcaster for an explanation.
He made it worse. He was again caught on camera telling the unsuspecting masses that a local authority reports to a governor and a minister he has appointed. Later on, he went to claim that regional councils are headed by a governor. These claims, by a national consciousness politician, are not supported by the relevant laws guiding regional and local councils.
This only happens in a political society such as ours – wherein transition from national consciousness to social and political consciousness didn’t take place – wherein theatric charlatan indeed appear astute. If Geingob can be forgiven because of his age and heroic deeds, think about these recent comments by a Swapo leader Mathew Mumbala as quoted in The Namibian newspaper: “Mumbala encouraged party members to end their love and friendship relationship with those aligned to other political parties, saying it is unacceptable for a Swapo member to be a sympathiser of an opposition party.” We must even end marriages, or either quit politics and become spiritual leaders if you want to be fair to everyone,” he fumed.
It is not clear whether Marco Hausiku, Swapo Deputy Secretary General, heeded Mumbala’s call when he participated in the firing of his wife [from the Rundu Town Council] on Valentines Day.
That Swapo is giving decrees on love, sex and marriage, for political advantage, is not only indicative of the degeneration. It is reminiscent of the Apartheid that introduced the Immorality Act (Act No. 5 of 1927) and Immorality Amendment Act (Act No. 21 of 1950) to outlaw love, sex and marriage between black and white people. The unsuspecting masses, intoxicated by heroism of nationalistic politics, see no similarities. Indeed, in an unsuspecting political society – a society that did not attain social and political consciousness - such as Namibia, theatric charlatans appears progressive and clever.
* Job Shipululo Amupanda is a decolonial scholar and activist from Omaalala village in northern Namibia.
New Era Reporter
2019-02-20 09:58:17 5 months ago