Critical analysis of Phil ya Nangoloh’s speech

Dear Editor,

PHIL ya Nangoloh is a prominent human rights lawyer, a Namibian politician who decided to rejoin a prominent party in the country, Swapo party -a motive that caused some ear blows among most political party office bearers and the Namibian civil society, at large. The text as broadcasted by Eagle FM Namibia, appears targeted at former People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) combatants most of whom are now political office bearers, the people with power.

It was formally published that the founding father of the nation wanted Ya Nangoloh to apologise to him first. In the prepared speech the human rights lawyer refuses to apologise to the Founding President rather calls for reconciliation concurrently. He kept saying that Swapo comrades committed some human rights violations and is calling on them to apologise as well. This prompted this critical text and discourse analysis of his speech.

It is worth noticing that this text is being analysed using one of Fairclough’s model of discourse analysis, the discursive practice that looks at the production and interpretation of texts and social practice.

Ya Nangoloh’s text was produced in favour of people with power, the political officer bearers, as the main audience of his speech, notwithstanding, however the persona in the text appears to be reminding them indirectly that everybody needs to repent but still hiding what seemed to have not yet revealed to the civil society leaving people without power ill-informed in their capacity as secondary audience of his speech.

This quoted statement however, appears to leave people without power wandering around thoughts for his speech needs some pragmatic approach to infer its real meaning beyond what he actually said.

“My fellow Namibians. I am writing this public apology in honour and memory of my brother, Lt-Col Israel ‘Jerry’ Ipumbu and many other fallen fellow members of People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).”

Pragmatically, this politician is reminding others with whom he was in political struggle that they should also remember their ‘wrongdoings’. He seems to have a list of evil-doers looming freely in independent Namibia, including himself as sensed in a word ‘also’ he used in the quote above. Another conclusive justification can be inferred from this quote again the term ‘fallen’ is used here generically to include both those who died in direct combat against the South African enemy forces as well as those who were killed or caused to disappear with trace by our own PLAN comrades following proven or unproven accusations of wrongdoing.

Likewise, the people without power are those discriminated by this text, for it has left them (the members of the civil society) peeping around to know what has really happened; the concealed ordeal.

Another worth quoting is point 4. “I have forgiven them all because we need now, perhaps more than ever before peace, unity and reconciliation as well as a common loyalty to one republic.” In this statement, one can infer or conclude that the speech writer has downplayed his inter thoughts with lots of imagery like that of kinaesthetic and visual imagery seeing his brothers (Ipumbu) who he remembered as perished in a war probably deliberately killed without tracing.

Rhetorically analysing the persona in his speech in point 20: “I urge any other Swapo member to also publicly apologise individually or collectively for such human rights violations.” He used the word ‘such’ and almost went metaphoric but rather chose to remain ambiguous for he has swallowed what he could have told the Namibian civil society, the civilians – people without power.

The production of this text is coherent enough to tell that it was produced timely with enough editing and revision time. The nature of the medium of the content of the text has left people without power with questions on the likelihood of some concealed truthfulness.

* Fredrick MacGyver

Concerned Namibian