Has anti-colonial revolution merely replaced the colonial bureaucracy?

Yours Truly Ideologically-Fourth Instalment: Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

It is a big question today in an independent Namibia whether the country, with the attainment of political freedom about 30 years ago on March 21, 1990, she at the same time may also have embarked upon what the late African ideologue from Botswana, Dr. Goabamang Kennetn Koma, would describe as the Second Phase of the African Revolution.

This question naturally comes up partly because of the generally imposed and accepted narrative of national resistance as being purely nationalist or patriotic in nature and character. There was little reference during war for independence in the then South West Africa, as initiated by the great early patriotic warriors, culminating in the liberation struggle by latter day liberators, to the Namibian Revolution. Ideologically such reference could have been an indication that it was more than just a fight for freedom and liberation, whatever the nature and character of the independence and freedom being fought for, and was to ensue.

It was painted as purely nationalist and patriotic in nature, and thus detached and devoid from the materialist conception of history, or historic materialism as Karl Marx, foremost, would postulates. Such postulation being that at a certain point the development of the forces of production brings them into conflict with the relations of production. Relations that had previously encouraged the development of the forces now hold them back. This results in a social crisis that weakens the power of the ruling class, and eventually results in either its overthrow or its transformation.

The narrative of German historiographers, and fellow writing travelers in colonial history, combined with the subtle ideology, among and within the ideologically inclined liberation movements, notably Swapo of Namibia and Swanu of Namibia during the liberation era. Subsequently the ideological essence and would-have-been content of the Namibian Revolution was and has since been relegated to the dustbin of history as mere nostalgia, if not political relic of the two former liberation movements.

This relegation, which some may characterise as the beginning of the betrayal of the Namibian Revolution, started with the glasnost era with the end of the cold war, coinciding with, if not propelling the implementation of the United Nations Peace Plan for the independence of Namibia.

But as alluded to in last week’s instalment, like with colonial penetration, factored by various commercial-cum-class interests but portrayed mainly as patriotic in intent, the Namibian National liberation war was equally driven by a cluster of social groupings. A cluster of classes in the Marxist-Leninist ideology. What Dr Koma came to refer to as the ingredients of the anti-colonial revolution. The social classes in colonial and semi-colonial African (Namibian) society during the liberation struggle or Anti-Colonial Revolution ala Dr Koma.

“The major task of the first phase of the African Revolution was to get rid of the scourge of colonialism in all the varieties of its manifestations. This was the task of the anti-colonial struggle. The main feature of this struggle, its driving force, was nationalism characterised by the desire of the indigenous communities to achieve self-determination, and the realisation of their nation states, which were to be recognisable and identifiable by state sovereignty, and the consequent admission of the new nation states to the world community of nations, within the framework of the United Nations Organisation,” writes Dr Koma in his ideological synopsis, The Second Phase of the African Revolution Has Now Begun.

Any ideologue, in Africa, including Namibia, would not be worth her/his while if she/he fails to equate this general picture of the African liberation struggle or decolonisation, and by extension also of Namibia, to Namibia’s early national patriotic war, and also later to the liberation struggle as it may be. Which could in essence also explain the status quo in Namibia and the absence of ideology, or for lack of a proper word, its suppression if not the paying of lip service thereto. Because in essence this was and has been equally the Namibian route, and the reason why Namibia may find herself in the current ideological impasse, if not ideological bankruptcy.

“The first phase of the African revolution (Namibian revolution), usually and generally referred to as the anti-colonial revolution, was neither anti-feudal nor anti-imperialism in the real sense nor did it focus its attention on the removal of exploitation in general, because it conceived of oppression and exploitation in the context of whites against blacks,” adds Dr Koma. I am sure many would succinctly, or for that matter ferociously disagree with Dr Koma on this score, hastening to apologetically refer to the fashionable anti-colonial and anti-imperialist slogans, which were the hallmarks of the liberation struggle then. But what could be the telltales of the current post-independence Namibian era, the slogans of the liberation struggle era notwithstanding?

“The anti-colonial revolution had, as its main achievement, the right of the new nation states to exercise self-determination but all in all, this anti-colonial revolution was mainly and essentially a replacement of the colonial administrative bureaucracy and state paraphernalia by the national or indigenous administrative bureaucracy and state paraphernalia,” postulates Dr Koma. Simply put the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We currently have the pudding of Namibian anti-colonial revolution or liberation struggle in the eating to agree and disagree with this postulation by the late Dr Koma. But still the question begs if independence heralded the Second Phase of the Namibian Revolution and what is the nature and character of this Revolution?

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