Did March 21, 1990, the day of Namibian independence, usher in the first phase of the national revolution?
Comes the question cautious to presume this may have been the case because of the lack of ideological clarity, if not lack of ideology all together in Namibia on national issues. There were two major epochs of national resistance. First against German colonialism and imperialism and occupation, and subsequently against the Apartheid South African regime’s occupation and de facto annexation of South West Africa as its first province.
The National Resistance had in its first and launching stage vanguard true patriotic nationalist leaders. This led to the Genocide, currently the subject of a campaign by affected communities. The fathers and mothers of the early resistance movement subsequently bequeathed the next phase of the presumed National Revolution, that of petitioning, first the League of Nations, and later the United Nations Organisation, to the successive and next generations.
In the late 1960s the baton of the revolution passed on to yet another generation. This is when the revolution assumed different dimensions and was conducted on many different fronts, including the diplomatic, humanitarian, and last but not the least, the military front with Swapo of Namibia taking up arms. This ushered in Namibian independence. Essentially the first phase of the revolution must have been completed. In the dictum of Pan Africanist, Kwame Nkurumah, the political kingdom was achieved. With the other phase, notably the economic freedom to follow naturally and axiomatically. What Goabamang Kenneth Koma refers to as The Second Phase of the African (Namibian) Revolution.
Political leaders from all persuasions because there was and has been a very thin line between them in terms of their ideological disposition or best their ideological posturing. One need to look no further than to their 1989 political manifestos to establish their ideological convergence. And this is perhaps where and why one must start to look for an explanation to the prevailing status quo, the betrayal of the revolution ala Kenneth Goabamang Koma.
But before one passes judgment on whether the revolution has been betrayed or not, and by whom for that matter, if ever it has been betrayed, it is important to reflect on the ingredients in the early stages of the National Revolution. The cluster of classes contributing to it, to have a full comprehension and appreciation of the nature of the various forces comprising and forming part of the National Resistance alliance. But as a caveat there seems to never have been any real and truthful understanding and/or appreciation of the Marxist-Leninist ideology, and concomitant commitment to a socialist economic system among these clusters.
Nevertheless it is imperative for ideological and historic posterity to point out that the national revolution was by no means insignificant as a stepping stone towards the next phase, The Second Phase of the African (Namibian) Revolution, ala Koma. This is what one of the erstwhile proponents of Marxist-Leninism, Lenin, writes about in his booklet titled: The Right of Nations to Self-Determination. “If we want to grasp the meaning of self-determination of nations, not by juggling with legal definitions, or “inventing” abstract definitions, but by examining the historic-economic conditions of the national movements, we must inevitably reach the conclusion that the self-determination of nations means the political separation of these nations from alien national bodies, and the formation of an independent national state.”
A cursory glance and reflection on the Namibian Revolution, from its genesis in the national resistance movement, and subsequently against Apartheid South African occupation, aptly testifies to the national character and nature of the first stage of the revolution, which was essentially against foreign political domination.
A quote from Chief Hendrik Witbooi against one of the so-called protection treaties, is instructive: “Everyone under protection is a subject to the one who protects him…Moreover, this Africa is the land of the Red chiefs and when danger threatens a chief, and he feels he is unable alone to oppose such danger, then he may call upon his brother chief or chiefs of the Red people, and say: “Come brother or brothers let us stand together and fight for our land Africa and avert this danger which threatens our land” for we are the same in colour and manner of life, and although divided under various chief, the land is ours in common.”
One cannot in this context also fails to mention the historic letter of erstwhile Ovaherero Paramount Chief , Samuel Maharero, to his counterpart and fellow brother-in-arms against the colonial menace, Henrik Witbooi penned Let us Die Fighting. This became the title of the book by Horst Drechsler. “Rather let us die fighting and not die as the result of ill-treatment, prisons, or all the other ways. Furthermore, let all the other chiefs down there know so that they may rise and work….Send me for of your men that we may discuss matters. Also obstruct the operations of the Governor so that we will be unable to pass. And make haste so that we may storm Windhoek then we shall have ammunition. Furthermore I am not fighting alone, we are all fighting together,” reads Maharero’s letter to Witbooi ostensibly to forge a common national force against German occupational advances.
Likewise petitions to the League of Nations and later to the UN, despite their initiation by specific traditional leaders, first by the likes of Kutako and Hoveka, was intrinsically nationalist. Likewise, ultimately with the formation of political parties in the late 1950s and early 1960s like Swanu and Swapo, the bold message was common to all indigenous people against the occupation of their land, with the ensuing socio-economic deprivation endured by most indigenes.
Like with the colonial penetration of South West Africa, masterminded, driven and pushed by a conglomeration, if not an unholy alliance of British and German politico-economic interests-cum-classes, and later with the Berlin Conference in 1884, by a constellation of imperial economic classes, the Namibian Revolution comprised of different class ingredients.
This surely must explain the character of the content of the independence that came to be without derogating from the essence of the first phase of the Namibian revolution, the National Resistance. Different class clusters contributed. The question now is whether we in Namibia have indeed embarked upon the Second Phase of the Namibian Revolution, what must be last and ultimate phase? If not, why not? Unpacking this is the subject of the next installment.