A joinder to Prof Andre du Pisani’s ‘Liberation and the crisis of ideas’

By Dr Rihupisa Kandando

I fully concur with the sentiments expressed in the opinion piece of 22 July 2021 in The Namibian by Prof Andre du Pisani, a renowned intellectual giant of our time, not a fake or non-intellectual pseudo political analyst – a person whose name I first heard at a very tender age when he was at the South Africa Institute of Race Relations in the 1970s and then met him personally at our University of Namibia.

The gist of his assertion is that eulogies of ‘comrades’, ‘heroes’, ‘warriors’, ‘revolutionaries’ and ‘strategists’ who departed on the account of Covid-19 and who are paraded through state and heroes’ funerals are not highlighting the intellectual content, merit and value of their ideas and the extent to which these resonate with the present and how we can benefit from these ideas in the future.

In substantiation of my concurrence with Prof Andre du Pisani’s sentiments, I wish to reflect on some salient and dominant past of our history which we may have been forgotten and which contributes to the crisis of ideas and by extension the regression of nationhood project.

We are emanating from the past where diversity and plurality of political opinion were not tolerated both by the international community and racist Pretoria to such an extent that only Swapo and DTA (now PDM) were the beneficiaries.

As a result of that partiality, polarisation and disunity within our communities have set in.  With the advent of independence, the selective and sectarian narrative of history continues unabated and the political situation in the country has not changed since the writing of Professors André du Pisani and William A. Lindeke titled, ‘Political Party Life in Namibia: Dominant Party with Democratic Consolidation’ in IPPR briefing paper No. 44, February 2009.

The findings have revealed the truth that Namibia lacks a mass of independent and critical thinkers. The civil society, churches, trade unions and social fabric of our society are mostly intrinsically linked to Swapo.

I advise Prof Andre du Pisani to do what the late Gerson Hitjevi Veii, the legendary and embodiment of our people’s aspiration in May 1980 did when he wrote ‘My Reflections’ to catalogue his experience of eight years since his release from the notorious Robben Island in 1972. In the same vein, our renowned professor may consider to reflect on the situation since 2009.

The second aspect is whether Prof Andre du Pisani recalls a conference under the auspices of the Namibia Institute of Democracy (NID) in 2003 or 2004 that drew participants from Ghana, Mozambique, political parties in Namibia where he was invited to speak and where government refused to attend because of his presence; whether the nation recalls ‘Politics of the Institution and the Public Intellectual: From Makumbe to Maamberua’ to borrow from Alexactus Kaure when in 2008 a prominent Zimbabwean academic was barred from speaking at the University of Namibia.

I respectfully submit that the issue is not necessarily that among others Gerson Hitjevi Veii, Nora Schimming-Chase, Vekuii Rukoro and Zedekia Ngavirue who were accorded state and heroes’ funerals did not have philosophical idealism to which they subscribed to, on the contrary it is the dictates of the status quo that are designed with mathematical exactness of Pythagoras to conceal for instance the truth that Gerson Veii was incarcerated on notorious Robben Island in 1966 because he said the dice after the Omugulumbashe battle of August 1966 had fallen on John ya Otto, Jason Mutumbulwa and Nathanael Maxuilili who were missing and therefore the whites had to account for their whereabouts.

Do the family, friends, members, supporters of Swapo and the nation at large know this history which is a vindictive, concrete and practical demonstration of a personality who subordinated and sacrificed his entire life to the Namibian revolution?

The answer is a BIG NO!

I have read in print media with dismay the tribute of Zed Ngavirue and Vekuii Rukoro by Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi and Joshua Kaumbi respectively by observing for instance the conspicuous absence of reference relating to 18 years of Zed Ngavirue’s political life in exile from 1960 to 1978 as well as Rukoro’s 14 years from 1975 to 1989. Dr Zed Ngavirue was a de jure leader of Swanu as a chairman of the Swanu External Council.

Similarly, I fully support the call opined in the article by Dr Alfredo Hengari in December 18 2020 that “we should continue with the heritage of unity and tolerance” provided we become true agents in documenting narratives that bind us together instead of relegating the history of others to the periphery and footnotes.

I submit that when we become prisoners of our own conscience, conceal the truth, aiding the process of nationhood retardation by adopting sectarian position based on partisan, selfish, petty-personal consideration, ethnic and party political hegemony, posterity will judge us harshly.

* Dr Rihupisa Kandando