When I think of Swapo, the first thing that comes to mind is Kwansa-sul, Lubango, Luanda, Ndalatandu, Nyango, Lusaka and many other places I travelled to in transit to wherever the system felt I needed to be as a child. I remember vividly meeting my father, Colonel (retired) John Martin Nakaambo aka John Kawalala after his return from Germany, where he was studying. It was strange to be introduced to this man claiming to be my father whom I have never met, yet excited to see what he had brought for me. To make the long story short, this man took me with him to a military base called Omalulu, near Vietnam (both suburbs in Lubango). There were few other kids, less than five that stayed there, but I remember Khumalo Kapelwa as one of those kids. This period was significant for me because it was during this time that defined who I became. The system and comrades took care of us during that period; just the same as before I met my father. Swapo through its people that belonged to its ideological understanding of what needed to be done stood to take care of us when our parents went to the front to fight for the common purpose, which was independence for Namibia.
I remember every now and then my dad telling me to pack up my things because I was moving to meme Selma’s house for a month, I knew it already that he was going to the front and if the odds were against me, he would not return, but God has always brought him back to me. As a child, when trucks are picking or dropping off soldiers, it is only natural that we run to or with the trucks. Going trucks were never a problem for us because all the soldiers were there, but the returning trucks always had fewer soldiers. The most rewarding times were always when my dad got off a truck and picked me up, laughing and smiling, and I too in my happy and joyful moments of the return of my dad….reality checks in when you realise that your friend’s father did not get off the truck.
As a child, we would stand until all the soldiers got off the truck and at times watch the empty truck drove off. My dad always took me by the hand and walk toward our house as if to say, I am here so let’s go home. But for whatever reason, I always look over my shoulder to see which of my friend wasn’t picked up by their father…because I knew that next time, it would be me. So, even though you are walking off joyfully this time around while your friend is on her knees crying for the father who didn’t get off the truck, you are surely guaranteed that you will be next. Gloomiest time to be a child.
This is one of those moments when life hits you quickly and we realise that we are not our own people, but that our lives are determined by the system, the system of Swapo and fate determined if you lived or died.
As it would later be, I was separated from my father and sent to Lusaka, Zambia. Luckily for me again, my mother was in Lusaka. My dear mother Sevelina N. Mbundje Shikongo (combat name Popyeni) waited for the bus that delivered her only child from the airport to Zimbabwe house (an area designated to Swapo). The only problem is, I didn’t know her, but lucky enough one comrade lady indicated to me over the window that indeed she was my mother.
This woman I just met at seven years was confirmed to be my mother right there and then and I accepted because the system told me so, and who am I to disagree? Two months down the line, my newly rekindled relation with my mother was uprooted because the system decided that my mother needed to go with her husband (Commissar Festus Nehale Shikongo) to Lubango, Angola and I was to stay in Zambia, Nyango to start school. Since that time in 1987, I was to see my mother and father again in 1991, a year after independence in Namibia, how I got here, well is another long story but the system made sure that I arrived safely to Namibia. Who am I then, if not a child of Swapo?
Swapo as an organisation to many children of the liberation struggle is more than a party or an affiliate party, it is our home. Our identity is entrenched in the party and divorcing from it is equal to divorcing my own mother. So, if that is the case, why are our parents destroying our party right in front of our eyes? What evil spirit has come over the elders that they are willing to destroy an organisation that they laid a foundation to build just because they cannot see eye to eye?
What legacy will be continued from hereon? We are tired of seeing our home being molested and abused for the interest of a few, and what if you loot today, what will become of you tomorrow? because surely we will make sure that we will come to take it all back from your children or your family members. We are tired. Is this what we sing about when we say “those whose blood waters our freedom? I am sitting thinking about my dear friends’ father who paid the ultimate price on the promises of “in a Swapo led government, spouses and dependents of PLAN fighters will be taken care off.” What happened to Swapo manifesting the promises of its manifesto of 1989? Our elders have become the mockery of all social media platforms because they don’t want to relinquish power or to listen at all structural levels of the party. Even worse, how do retired generals want to return to party policy formulation, to do what? Do they want to discuss post-industrial society and agenda 2063 for themselves, us, or for their grandchildren? I can’t seem to comprehend that at all, meaning that all your lives you are a beneficiary of the system? It is shameful. Once again, as NEKA said before, Swapo must revisit and operate within the founding principles of the party; which are solidarity, freedom and justice for all. These fundamental principles to which supreme sacrifices were made for the welfare of others have been the highest expression of solidarity and it needs to be defended and upheld by all party card carriers.
The promise by which the Swapo-led government was established was, to ensure that in independent Namibia, social justice and equality were to be the fundamental principle governing the decision-making process. But instead, we have observed with great dismay the continuous abuse of our founding principles by senior leaders of the party which have become a threat to the visionary existence of the party. What saddened us the most is our elders have been engaging in a generational conflict which has caused the grass to suffer the most? You need to stop it or else we are all doomed. This generational conflict between peers has the potential to diminish the party in totality now if we continue being unable to find a consensus on how to move the party and Namibia to the next level. We are requesting our elders to put their differences aside and unite on the ideological principles which were and are based on the brotherhood of mankind. We must remember that “The perspective of life flowing from our commitment to these ideas is that individuals should subordinate their own personal interests for the greater good of all” (Swapo Manifesto, 89)
The leadership of Swapo must understand the above. We are tired.
*Benitha Nakaambo is the president of the Namibian Exile Kids Association