What was actually ushered in on March 21, 1990, was the first phase of the national revolution. An outcome of and legacy of years of colonial resistance as spearhead by the brave and valiant leaders. Initially in the national resistance 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 as its vanguard true patriotic nationalist leaders. The National Resistance, or the first phase of the National Revolution which, notably, led to the Genocide, currently the subject of a campaign by affected communities. Seeking recognition by the current government of the Federal Republic of Germany for the genocide of Namibians, notably the Ovahrero and Nama; by its predecessor Imperial government. Than an apology and restorative justice. A Genocide for which to date the affected communities are feeling the consequences, either in terms of depopulation, having been nearly annihilated, and for being robbed of their properties, foremost land and cattle.
Fathers and mothers of the early resistance movement subsequently bequeathed the next phase of the National Revolution, that of petitioning, first the League of Nations, and later the United Nations Organisation, to the successive and next generation.
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 latter day revolution or struggle, eventually ushered in the Namibian independence on 21 March, 1990. With those at the helm of the leading armed political-formation, Swapo of Namibia, taking over the reins of political power from the Apartheid South African regime. Essentially the first phase of the revolution was 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 with emphasis on political persuasion because there was and has been a thin line between all political persuasions in terms of their ideological disposition, if at all there is any ideological disposition to speak of and about regarding the various political persuasion then on the eve of the 1989 elections, and to this day. Look no further than to their 1989 political manifestos. And this is perhaps where one must start to look for an explanation to the prevailing status quo, the betrayal of the revolution ala which is tantamount to what 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, ingredients in terms of the cluster of classes, to have a full comprehension and appreciation of the nature of the various forces comprising and forming part of the National Resistance alliance. However, a caveat may be apt in the sense whether at any stage of the Namibian revolution there was ever any real and truthful understanding and/or appreciation of the Marxist-Leninist ideology and concomitant commitment to a socialist economic system?
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. A means to an end but not an end in itself. 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 historico-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 study of the Namibian Revolution dating back to its genesis in the national resistance movement, beginning with the government of the Cape of Good Hope (The British government whose colonial escapades in the then South West Africa often seem to receive passing and/or cant attention), the advance of German colonialism proper in the early 1800s, 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.
To illustrate the national upsurge against colonialism and foreign occupation, and to amplify the patriotic and nationalistic essence of the first phase of the National Revolution, 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 by Kutako and Hoveka, was intrinsically coughed in a nationalist quasi political inspiration, representative of most if not all Namibians. 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, and foremost prompted the attendant socio-economic deprivation endured by most indigenes.
Just 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 as you would have it, the Namibian Revolution comprised of different class ingredients.
This surely must explain the character of the content of the independence that came to be. But which still does not derogate from the essence of the first phase of the Namibian revolution, the National Revolution. The first phase of the National Revolution, to which different class clusters contributed, entailing the resistance movement of our forebears, culminating in the petitioning era, and in the latter part in the liberation struggle with its armed appendage, was indeed necessary to set the stage for the Second Phase of the African Revolution. The question now is whether we in Namibia have indeed embarked upon this phase, what must be last and ultimate phase. If not why not. Unpacking this and whether the revolution has been betrayed or not is the subject of the next installment.