Our elders are familiar with the pains of the struggle and know how to deal with life when unbearable times perpetuate, on the other hand, the youth in a large population becomes educated scholars with peculiar knowledge formulas towards the attainment of national development. However, there is absolutely no reason to disrespect elders in the name of the world that is evolving and craving an educated population. Furthermore, what the Affirmative Reposition (AR) is advocating for in terms of youth development and empowerment is right and commendable, but, unfortunately, the approach seems to be contemptuous towards the elders. Broadly speaking, elders only react positively if the approach is coherent and respectful.
Alternatively, the youth protest that took place in the capital and further spread like a wild fire, around the country in mid-October of the current year, which its main agenda was a fight against sexual gender-based violence, should be an epiphany for our elders. Personally, I do not think our elders are aware of the disruptive dangers of having an educated youth population facing high rates of unemployment, that has to put up a fight in order to be heard, and sadly is not given the apprenticeship to be involved in deciding the future of Namibians. Thus, youth development and empowerment should not just be used when it suits political agendas. The old man or woman with a vast experience in getting the job done but lacks education and the young woman or man who is highly educated but lacks experience due to a lack of employment have to come together in order to collaborate and coexist for the betterment and fulfilment of national interests including the future of coming generations.
It is very unfortunate for the youth of the present world because emphasis tends to favour individuals with prominent last names rather than those who scholarly fit the demands of the course of action at hand. Consequently, what stifles negative impacts of these ill-actions in this regard, is the national development and the rationale to justify why the youth needs to attain education. It is easier said than done; to write and direct how people should act, unfortunately, the reality is that we all have our predicaments that we endeavour to resolve on a daily. The constant derogatory jargon towards elders is uncalled for and as a result, there is a need to respect each elder as if they were our parents and the same applies to our elders, they should protect and be thoughtful to issues affecting us, as they would for their children. As the wise would say, “respect comes in two unchangeable steps, giving it and receiving it.” The same respect we accord our parents should not be distinct as to how we address our national leaders despite the familiarity of their national portfolios. Many times the public tends to forever praise a fight for something that is done procedural and ignore the manner of approach. However, I will never stand with people that let arrogance and social status of popularity drive them to approach matters of national interests in an insolence manner. This behaviour should not be normalized nor idolized, rather be admonished.
Nevertheless, I am yet to be amazed by an elder in our great nation that would turn down a board membership appointment to recommend a young person for the position. What is wrong with taking chances on competent young people in the name of empowerment? What is wrong with making the youth apprentices? Do our elders want to decide Namibia’s future without the involvement of the future generation itself? We are grateful to our forefathers for the fight for independence, there is no disputing that and given the opportunity, we would have joined them then. Moving forth, presently, the fight is for the future, the development of our country and the African continent at large. There is absolutely no way we will be able to achieve continental development when we have in-fighting and divisions within our countries. Having different political ideologies is right. However, when we have people leaving their political parties (to start their own), which they claim to love because of personal vendettas, discredits the value of party politics and presents subjective arguments as to how a multiparty system can be negatively used.
In my opinion, what must happen promptly is that any decision aimed at setting the future should require both the elders and the youth to jointly make it a collaborative effort. Although it might be practically impossible as a country, we are fortunate enough to have few young people as members of the national assembly and for that, it is their sole responsibility to rightfully represent the general youth population. Therefore, whenever the national assembly is making decisions affecting the youth and the future of this great country, it is the responsibility of government to seek and involve our young parliamentarians in the decision making process and creating a safe space for them to be heard.
Being truthful is hard for most people but if we were all truthful to ourselves first, secondly to the next person and thirdly towards our actions, then the world would be how we desire it to be. What complicates life is politicising everything - and factually, all the youth wants and craves for is practical empowerment and inclusivity from our elders. Unfortunately, for as long as youth empowerment remains a term only used for political points and scores the youth will desiccate suffering, and the future of a Namibia that exists to empower young people will only be envisaged when the young people of today become elders of tomorrow, to the young people in the foreseeable future. Altogether, politics is the biggest destruction to progress while truthfulness is the biggest salvation to progress. Can our elders differentiate between the two as a way of hearing and understanding why the youth is crying? This is question that only our elders can answer.
*Petrus Ndeumono Mbidi possesses a diploma in Local Government Studies, an honours degree in Public Management, and he is a final year masters of Public Administration student at the University of Namibia.