Youth: From My Perspective

I write this commentary as an embarrassed and an ashamed youth. Such embarrassment is what is termed the youth hypocrisy herein. I seek to state clearly in uncertain terms that we have rats in our house as youth. That our institutions and operations contradict what we are seeking to be addressed; that we carry with us the very awful we don’t want characterising our headship.

We know too well that there is little focus on the critical analysis of the youth and their institutions in mainstream national discourse. In this month of June, it is apt to turn the finger and point it inward and interrogate ourselves if we are in line with Thinker Fanon in that “every generation, out of relative obscurity, must identify its mission and accomplish or betray it.”

The honest amongst us know that we must partly take blame of the youth crisis in the motherland for we failed the Youth Manifesto through complacency, patronage and lack of pragmatic leadership. Lets look at two youth institutions for example – the Namibia National Students Organization (NANSO) and the SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL).

The honest among us know very well that the NANSO that was, is no longer. What we now have are individuals operating as NANSO but NANSO in terms of institutional fabrics is lifeless. There has been no congress to democratically elect the leadership for close to a decade now. This undemocratic tendency has led to the NANSO that is now run by civil servants. Does anyone know the NANSO office where students can visit and place issue to their attention? I am not talking about the National Youth Council Boardroom. In the eyes of the unsuspecting, when they see individuals appearing in national media with the phrase NANSO attached to them, they think NANSO does exist

We must not lose sight of the fact that some youth leaders we have today are a creation of a historic Swakopmund sms; ‘Cde. You are the new NANSO Secretary for ….’ While at it, I must acknowledge that the sms-appointed leaders are working hard to bring change. Be it as it may, in an illicit environment you can only operate as far as your master allows you to, for the culture of the master becomes that of the slave. Can NANSO utter any demands for democracy in any sector of the Namibian society when it is undemocratic? Can NANSO for example ask why Government officials at the Ministry of Education are not in their offices when they don’t have an office in the first place? Can an undemocratic leader claim representing students when that same leader has no direct mandate? I am ashamed by the youth hypocrisy of this generation.

“SPYL is the most powerful but yet useless organisation in Namibia.” That is the fitting expression to start the discussion on SPYL. This was an expression, I was informed, made by a senior SPYL Leader when addressing a youth league structure invited not in a personal capacity but in capacity as a leader of the organisation.

The thinking amongst us are already wondering as to whether this cannot be taken to be a policy statement especially considering the leader concerned. Unemployment hit 51.2 percent affecting 60 percent of the Namibian youth who are mostly SPYL members for there are no other vanguard youth political organisations beyond it.

Be it as it may, we are yet to read a statement from the SPYL department of labour on SPYL position and possible strategies. Can we be encouraged by leaders who are forever silent when we need them the most? Can the Secretaries concerned, for example, express dissatisfaction of Government’s snail pace response to the youth crisis when they have let down the membership in the first place? Can we expect something from those in leadership and yet term the organisation as useless? Have we seen and do we know of any single policy of SPYL?

It is an uncontested fact that there is no one that can deliver on the Namibian youth other than SPYL. For that reason alone, we ought to be very critical of SPYL for its potential to deliver the Namibian youth. There are those few that we know that are doing very well in SPYL leadership (Good bless them) but truth be told the majority are just rent-seeking and castle-builders. We must be ashamed. Surely at times SPYL is a manifestation of the writings of political theorist Thomas Paine who, In his book Rights of Man, teaches us that “The man who is in the receipt of a million a year is the last person to promote a spirit of reform.”

Elsewhere, I just got presented with the evidence that student leaders at UNAM starting the year 2010 engaged in serious entrepreneurial and self empowerment drives with student resources. What we fought so hard for (as UNAM student leaders during our time) has been reduced to avenues for looting and empowering the individual few. I am ashamed to be fighting capitalists and capitalism at the national level when capitalist tendencies are manifesting among the youth at the institution where I used to be key. I am ashamed to realise that we have a corrupt, thieving and capitalist youth that is supposed to be the custodians of the youth manifesto. They have murderised student politics at UNAM that had always characterized Jean-Jacques Rousseau wisdom in that there is a need for each to be willing to declare his participation in the governance as part of a unified body whose interest are all enshrined and executed in the General will. Rousseau teaches that “people must find a form of association that provides all the material benefit of civilisation, as well as stability…and estate for everyone, not just for a few.” Such is deceased at UNAM where future leaders are born and I am ashamed.

The status of youth in the country is shaming and public intellectuals belonging to the youth must surely be ashamed of the youth hypocrisy as evidenced in our conducts and activities.

Let’s find the due date to youth hypocrisy for it is not sustainable and it will forever curtail our progress and legitimacy. PF

Job Shipululo Amupanda is a Masters of Art in Political Science Degree Candidate at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. He holds a Hold a BA in Political Studies and History from UNAM, a Honours Degree in Political Science from the University of Stellenbosch and a Postgraduate Advance Certificate in International Trade Policy and Trade Law from TRAPCA. He is a former SRC President at UNAM, Former President of Stellenbosch Political Science Students Association (SPOSSA) and Former Secretary for Political Education of South African Students Congress (SASCO) Stellenbosch Branch.