In his novel titled 1984, George Orwell sloganeered “War is peace, freedom is slavery [and] ignorance is strength.”
In the novel, this phrase is portrayed as the slogan of the English Socialism Party, which ruled Oceania.
The “war is peace” part of Orwell’s phrase suggests that war, which is bad, leads to peace, which is good. It’s like having to break an egg in order to make omelette.
Therefore, while the horrors of war are undesirable, overall the ultimate effects of war are positive, or so insinuates Orwell’s book.
In the novel, the English Socialism Party was using this phrase to covertly convince the people that war is positive because it puts everyone on the same page, allows them to show allegiance to their country through sacrifice, and has everyone looking to a greater good.
This week’s visit to State House by a group calling itself Swapo ex-detainees reminded us of 1984, Orwell’s novel.
And President Hage Geingob was poignant in his response that people should not forget that there was war - a poignant reminder of the passing of time.
The President was keen to hear from his visitors whether they were denying that there existed spies in Swapo ranks during the liberation struggle. Everyone went stone-silent.
True, there is no denying that innocent people may have been caught in the spy web. The very nature of war is that collateral damage is inevitably guaranteed. Thus, some innocent souls may have suffered treatment they did not deserve.
No one can tell, for example, whether those who went to State House this week were all truly innocent of spying, or that one or two of them may have indeed been involved in espionage against the liberation movement.
It could very much be that their hands are clean as an egg, all of them, or that the exact opposite is true.
This tells you just how complex a matter this is. Conventional wisdom would have it that no one would raise their hand and say ‘hey, I spied on Swapo on behalf of the enemy’. No one.
Torture was a cruel infliction of severe physical or psychological pain upon individuals to extract information or a confession out of them, and it happened across the entire spectrum of Namibia’s liberation war – not only on one side.
Inside Namibia, the enemy – out of depth as the war took its toll on him – even tortured children and pregnant mothers in an attempt to squeeze out of them non-existent answers.
Everyone suffered – no holy cows.
It was precisely for this reason that in order to avoid further strife and bloodshed – and in order to forge unity for the greater good of the country, national reconciliation was declared.
Asking for investigations into the alleged tortures by Swapo means those who suffered at the hands of apartheid forces and their spies must also demand the same.
It means anyone who missed out on a job or other life opportunities due to apartheid’s racist policies must also demand investigations into their own suffering.
If we go this route, hundreds of thousands of people in this country would have a case to pursue justice against their former enemies. And then what?
Throwing this precious baby called reconciliation out with the bathwater would be the genesis of our nation’s demise.
Everyone who suffered from the effects of war, including ex-detainees, can be assisted in manners that are consistent with existing government policies and not in a way that seems to suggest that their suffering was more prominent than those endured by any other Namibian.
2019-05-17 09:34:04 4 days ago