As I write this letter to you, I came to these plains of Siurungu village, on the outskirt of Nkurenkuru town in northern Namibia on the border with southern Angola. It is here on these banks of the Kavango River, that my childhood memories were ignited. As a little boy in the 1970s, I looked after cattle, goats and started school under a tree at Kakuro village. Those years, we were not free. We were governed from Pretoria, South Africa by the Apartheid government. This country was called South West Africa (Namibia) and we were divided in tribal homelands. Thus, this part of the country was governed by Kavangos under “Administrasie van Kavangos”. It was my late father from whom I learned about liberation movements “SWAPO ya Semma”; “MPLA ya Netu”, “UNIP ya Kaunda” and “ANC ya Tambo”.
Today, Namibia is free and is ruled by SWAPO while Angola is ruled by MPLA and South Africa is ruled by the ANC. The same goes to other former liberation movements like CCM (Tanzania), ZANU PF (Zimbabwe) and FRELIMO (Mozambique). Only UNIP (Zambia) is out of power. It is also true that Africa is now in the hands of Africans. There is no guarantee that we shall rule forever, if no decisive and deliberate effort is made to lay a strong ideological foundation in the hearts and minds of our young people.
Having worked with many of you over these years and knowing that this is my last and final term as Secretary of SWAPO Party Youth League, I decided to write this letter to you. I therefore hope this letter finds you well and that you are full of energy, vigour and determination to remain patriotic agents for spreading a genuine economic empowerment mandate anchored on youth empowerment, informal settlement development, rural development, genuine economic empowerment to all villages, towns, cities, provinces, regions and our respective countries.
I want to appeal to you as leaders and members of youth wings of our former liberation movements MPLA, ANC, SWAPO Party, UNIP, CCM, FRELIMO and ZANU-PF to be defenders and guarantors of the revolutions fought by these gallant movements. This requires of you all to be selfless, fearless and militant at all times in defence of the values of your movements respectively. This further required that the youth before you were equally fearless and were prepared to die in order for our countries to be free and independent. That is to say they pursued a belief to be cherished not for the stomach but to ensure that the wishes, dreams and aspirations remain and are not betrayed. I am aware it will not be easy.
For example, in some countries, vocal youth voices are not tolerated. Some are expelled or suspended, in other cases, they are “made to disappear”. We (myself, Cde Job Amupanda, Cde George Kambala and Cde Dee Nauyoma) in SWAPO Party Youth League experienced the suspensions and expulsions (July 2015) from SWAPO Party for reasons that history is yet to adequately invent. I am aware that this unnecessary wave of expulsions also happened in South Africa and Mozambique. In Angola, they were narrowly saved by President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. Invariably, the intention of the expulsions was clearly aimed at imposing “youthful handclappers” as leaders of youth wings. In our case, after expulsion, Cde Eddie Kafita was selected by the National Executive Committee of SWAPO Party Youth League as Acting Secretary of SWAPO Party Youth League. But those who expelled us, decided otherwise, they went ahead to unconstitutionally endorse and thereby impose their chosen chameleon as Acting Secretary. Thankfully, on 22 April 2016, Judge Collins Parker in the High Court of Namibia made history and ordered our reinstatement in the fold of SWAPO Party of Namibia.
The lessons we have learned during our expulsion are many and include the knowledge that every pain is temporal. We learned to have big hearts and never lose focus on the ideology of the party and to not waste energy on those who harbour ills against you. At all times, we have learned this generation has a mandate, which must not be betrayed at all cost. It is our birthright to defend, advocate and promote the values of inequitable distribution of the wealth of Africa to all Africans especially those in rural areas and in the impoverished informal settlements all across the continent.
I want to pay tribute to Cde Absalom Sikhosana (ZANU-PF YL), Ruben Michael Shigela (CCM YL), Ronald Lomola (ANCYL), Basilo Muhate (FREELIMO YL), Luther Rescova (JMPLA) with whom we shared the inaugural meeting (August 2011) of the Youth Wings Meetings on the sidelines of Heads of State and Governments of Former Liberation Movements. I pay tribute to the Secretary Generals and Heads of State who fortunately agreed in May 2010 to adopt and endorse it in subsequent meetings. On my part, I salute Cde Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, then Secretary General of SWAPO Party, for this historic eventuality.
I want to appeal to you all to consider a sustainable partnership with Cuba. I hope you all remember that it is the only country outside Africa that volunteered to spill its blood for the freedom of Namibia, Angola and South Africa. It will be advisable to create an institutional platform in the form of the Africa-Cuba Youth Association to champion the economic, political and cultural exchanges between our people and countries.
I also appeal that we remember China and Russia as having remained our traditional friends during the bitter days of the liberation struggle. I am glad that we succeeded to forge a practical platform with China through the Africa China Young Leaders Forum, which was first hosted by SWAPO Party of Namibia in Windhoek in May 2011. I trust a similar arrangement can be had with the Russian Federation.
I also appeal to remain genuinely united amongst us youth wings of former liberation movements. The youth wings must particularly be at the forefront of the unfinished business in the economic struggle. Individuals come and go but the ideals of the former liberation movements must outlive the old generation in power and the succeeding generations. The ideals of these liberation movements must remain true to the needs and aspirations of the people, particularly the majority poor by ensuring that you and millions of other youth in the respective countries should be the weapons in the arsenal of the liberation movements to wage this economic war. Below are some suggestions we should advocate collectively:
1. The family must continue to remain a basic unit to inculcate good values in African children.
2. The sister parties must live by an ideology which respects human beings above money. In particular, government procurement systems must be owned by young people in regions and not only the capital city.
3. Each sister party government must only give out a government project if same is composed of young people in partnership with technical partners who may be expatriates.
4. The voices of young people must not be stopped to speak, they must not be killed, imprisoned or expelled for articulating the aspirations of their generation.
5. Each youth wing of sister parties must own a reputable business with shareholding reflective of the demographics of that specific country.
6. The youth wings of sister parties must fight against tribalism, corruption and underdevelopment.
7. The youth of sister parties must ensure national broadcasters must become a tool to fight cultural imperialism and to advance pride and patriotism amongst the population.
8. The youth of sister parties must reject to be parrots, handclappers and political bubblegums.
9. The youth of sister parties must defend the constitutions of their respective mother bodies by ensuring that sister parties are run through rules but not emotions or tribes.
10. The resources of Africa must benefit all Africans especially those in rural areas and informal settlements.
Read full story on New Era Newspaper Namibia