Keeping our eyes on the ball, lest we retrogress

By Sibangani Dube
December 2013/January 2014
Editors Note



Nelson Mandela, the global icon, the freedom fighter, the Robben Island Prisoner. The reconciler and peacemaker has passed on and the world has been plunged into mourning for the outstanding leader of our times. We say “Hamba Kahle” true Champion of the world.  You have run the race and you have fought a good fight.  The Almighty has promoted you to a higher calling.


The outpouring of messages of condolences in remembrance of the great Statesman is a reflection of how much Nelson Mandela has influenced our continent and the world. World leaders including President Obama are set to attend the memorial service of the revered leader,  whose life will be a shining example of what it takes to make a difference in people’s lives.


What remains are the lessons for us as individuals, organisations and governments in living the ideals of Nelson Mandela. There is no doubt that Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to all and sundry. Coming from a humble rural background, he managed to weave his way to the highest office becoming a leader the world revers.


Coming from the Robben Island Prison, he made peace with the very people who incarcerated him, and never opted for retribution. As a true leader his first test fresh from prison was to diffuse many simmering tensions which, if poorly handled, could have thrown the new nation into turmoil.


Mandela possessed all the core elements of a good and exceptional leader.  He was the embodiment of integrity, courage, vision, commitment, empathy, humility, confidence, sincerity, energy and engagement. How many of our leaders can measure up to these standards? It is not surprising that everyone wanted a piece of him. I cannot recall any scandal or misappropriation of state funds for personal aggrandisement.


He positioned South Africa as a model of democracy Africa can look up to. But we are concerned how long the Mandela legacy will last. The calibre of the current crop of African National Congress (ANC) leaders seems to have lost their  moral compass and embarked on a path of self destruction that is sending out the wrong signals. There is no harm in going to the drawing board if you veer off course.


We cannot afford to see yet another failed African state. South Africa holds so much hope for  the rest of Africa. The failure of a state is a huge burden on its neighbours. Just look around! Something should prick the conscience of these leaders so that they can wake up and smell the coffee and work towards the good of their citizens, avoiding  the laager mentality as well and the impunity that is becoming the norm rather than the exception.


Instead of mourning for Tata Mandela we should celebrate his life. These were the words of Gwede Mantashe, the ANC Secretary General. But I must say, celebrating Mandela will make sense if we strive to make this continent a livable place for all Africans.


As Elijah Ngurare, the Swapo Youth League Secretary General, pointed out, it is important that Government make efforts to ensure education and I mean quality of education, is prioritised in the remote parts of the country. This is probably where the future leaders of Namibia will come from he says, and he is right. A good education is what a young person needs to conquer the world, but when the quality of education is compromised we sit on a powder keg that could blow up in our faces any day.


Namibia is  in a prime position to develop and train its people for the human capital of  the world. More importantly we should not lose sight that the many years of fighting to liberate the country were geared towards making it a better place for all, not only for those privileged or with connections.


As a developing country we need to create a dedicated crop of Namibians who will take this country far. Recently I was impressed with Sakaria Nghikembua’s presentation on what Namibia could do to create employment for young people. I wish the policy makers could take the thoughts he expresses in this article to heart.


As we celebrate Christmas and New Year, let us drink, enjoy, and drive responsibly. This country needs you!


Wishing you a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year! PF