Floodgates of tributes opened since news broke that iconic diplomat and former prime minister, Theo-Ben Gurirab, has gone to eternal sleep. Mourners, young and old, pointed to the revolutionary accomplishments of the man often dubbed the father of Namibian diplomacy. Such accomplishments were mostly accomplished during Gurirab’s youthful years, having gone into exile aged 24. Gurirab was a nationalist whose qualities and outlook on life must be emulated by Namibian youth in particular. The departed politician has provided an unparalleled example of leadership, audacity and demeanour required to succeed at the highest level. This is contrary to what we often see amongst the youth today, who cannot differ without insulting or even threatening each other with physical harm. Yet, with the likes of Gurirab gone for eternity, Namibia needs to put her ducks in a row in preparation of finding a new crop of revolutionaries who are ready to win the economic struggle that we are all called upon to confront. When negotiating bilaterals with other nations, be they political or economic, we need Gurirab-esque cool but persuasive heads, and not negotiators who threaten to manhandle others who pose alternative views. It is one thing to shout on top of our lungs how wonderful a being Gurirab was, but it is another thing to embrace the values that he stood for and promote them through our actions. Young people are often in a rush to become leaders, yet they most of the time forget that leadership is not an art of imposition of oneself onto others, but, like respect, it is earned. The humility of Gurirab was beyond reproach. As a disciplined cadre of the movement he was never involved in leadership squabbles of either Swapo or government. He embraced any role assigned to him and executed it with absolute dedication and finesse. Leadership contests, especially in the context of Swapo, have become a very emotionally-charged affair but Gurirab was never caught in the web of such contestation. He is on record, for example, narrating how he was made a sacrificial lamb of the ugly 2004 events – after that year’s Swapo extraordinary congress – when he had to give up the prime ministership in order for unity to prevail in the party. Such level of humility and care for more than just oneself is what made Gurirab a distinguished politician whose exemplary life young people must emulate. In 2015 he lost his seat in parliament, where he served as Speaker, after he could not muster a comeback through the Swapo electoral college. He handed over the tools of power to Peter Katjavivi, his successor, with a smile and wished him luck. Our youth, especially those in the political space, often leave power under acrimonious circumstances because they feel the world owes them its being. They lack humility to accept democratic outcomes that do not favour them, yet Gurirab, whom many have paraded as their inspiration and model, never clung onto a position when he was deemed useful elsewhere. #Khîb !nâ sâ re Theophilus Benjamin Gurirab.
2018-07-20 09:55:58 2 months ago