I often feel that a nine-to-five job is a mixed blessing.
Don’t misunderstand – I’m immensely grateful for work, the opportunity to improve people’s lives, and the monthly salary that comes with it.
But like the secret old Euro-communist that I am, I can’t help thinking that it could be better.
Could work not be characterized by joyous activity, rather than drudgery form Monday to Friday, fending off the latest ‘bright idea’ from the boss, and working late – again – just to keep one’s head above water?
I mean, I may not be talking about my specific workplace, but we all know these are common working experiences, not so?
I think most of us working people will say that our nine-to-five is not the exciting life we signed up for when we had presentations from the guidance counsellor at high school.
I understand that I’m coming at this from a very privileged position. Thank the Good Lord I don’t have a job like a shelf-stacker at Shoprite-Checkers, earning peanuts for what, in the time of Covid-19, is a dangerous public service.
(By the way, don’t believe the ‘low-skilled jobs’ argument from employers who would offer frugal pay: ALL labor is skilled labor; we choose to value some skills more than others. If you think a job is ‘unskilled’, I challenge you to do it for a week).
I know it’s a difficult thing to do politically, but it seems to me there would be enough in the bank accounts of the world’s billionaires for us all to live lives of relative luxury and, for most, a lot less work.
Furthermore, many writers point to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and note that even jobs that require intellectual thinking and mental rigor, like my own, will soon be doable by computer, in the same way as machines have taken over the work of people with welding torches in motor vehicle factories.
The likes of Aston Martins and Ferraris may still be built by hand, but it’s almost needless to say that you pay a vast premium for such craftsmanship. The same may one day be true of university professors, economists, architects, managers, auditors.
In the future, if you are the Rolex-wearing, Milan-designer-suited, old-school type who wants a human professor, you could still, I’m sure, sign up at Oxford and pay the premium. But, like a Casio Quartz tells more accurate time than a premium mechanical watch, you’d learn faster by signing up to the e-learning program and never quite knowing whether a human teacher or a computer algorithm marked your assignment.
(It’s an ironic twist that, as I was typing this, Word automatically corrected my spelling of ‘algorithm’).
Under current economic arrangements, this mechanization is to be feared: what about all our jobs? But you can also turn it around: look forward to the jobs going. Tax harshly the companies that own the robots: pay everyone a monthly income grant and/ or provide free healthcare, nutritious food, education and housing for all.
Many thinkers, both on the left and on the right, foresee this. I would recommend the historian Yuval Noah Harari as an accessible starting point.
What would we then do with our 24 hours? Would we be idle slobs? I don’t think so.
We would be free to do the activities we enjoy, freed from the need to wonder if x interest of ours could make money. We’d be free to invest our time in the sciences, arts and sports.
As for me, I might still have an occasional foray into media studies. But I might, in such a brave new world, spend more time involved in poetry or cycling or music, things that have been secondary to my day job because you can’t generally make much money at them unless you’re super talented or super lucky.
Meanwhile, we continue with the grind, I guess, and see how it all plays out.
Hugh Ellis is, seriously, very happy with his job as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication at the Namibia University of Science and Technology. He is Namibian. The views expressed here are personal views. Follow Hugh’s blog at http://ellishugh.wordpress.com
Witherto Diasporan reparation movement?
tribute to Cde “Hosea” Kamutuua Kandorozu
He became so fond wearing the red traditional regalia of the Red Flag from Namibia from where his great grand forebears, 114 years this year had fled, escaping colonial German genocide against the Ovaherero, Ovammbanderu and Nama.
Red in the quest for his traditional roots. For Red became the symbol of resistance of his people against German imperialism. To this day when it has become a symbol in the seeming never-ending quest for the redemption of the souls of his ancestors through reparation. A quest which has very much has come to be his embodiment and that of fellows in his native South Africa. A cause for which he died a hero this month through equally inspiring and mobilising descendants of the great warriors against German colonialism to retrace their roots and reclaim their Namibian heritage.
But for him RED only about the Ovaherero Red Flag. It equally represented the struggle of the workers in his native South Africa through the National Union of Mineworkers, and the South African Communist Party. But in Namibia we shall remember Comrade “Hosea” as a hero within the Reparation movement. Unwaveringly and unyieldingly he has been carrying the torch and holding high the banner of REPARATION all these years.
Now that he has joined the ancestors, it is not time to mourn him. But to reflect. On the distance covered this far. On a long and arduous road. Comrade “Hosea”, as his fellow revolutionaries and workers in South Africa would affectionately and revolutionary refer to him, never reached the destination. But DIED FIGHTING. We thus cannot but do justice to the memory of those who DIE FIGHTING him by mourning them. But by remembering them by emulating their deeds forever. Not reflecting on whether we are and have been on the right path, and in the right direction. Because that would be a betrayal of his believe in the correctness and righteousness of the cause and rightness of the path. And a travesty of the cause of REPARATION when Comrade “Hosea” is no more now, to change lanes and direction. Thereby betraying his good memory of his DEDICATION, BELIEVE and SACRIFICE.
But it is only right and appropriate to reflect on what we did, and/or could have done, to help him do more for our common cause. Reflecting on what we could have done to give him the necessary support, morally, financially , physically and otherwise. We need to ask ourselves how firm the REPARATION movement in the South African Diaspora is today? If not firm this is not because Comrade “Hosea” did not do his best. But simply because we did not give him the necessary and utmost support that we could and must have given him. First in ensuring an independent and solid Ovaherero Descendants Foundation in the Republic of South Africa; and secondly and consequently; that the GENOCIDE of the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama is today a household subject in South Africa. Firstly among the genocide descendants themselves in South African. And further in the South African media. But foremost among indigenous South African politicians/activists. We are well aware that the Comrade “Hosea” and Tuamanovandu Papos have clo
se ties with some of the leading African political movements in South Africa. Ties which with close cooperation and the requisite determined push between us the descendants of Genocide in Namibia, and our fellows in South Africa, and also in Botswana, could catapult the REPARATION demand on political agendas in both South Africa and Botswana.
But sadly some of us in Namibia have been overlooking the fact that Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama descendants in the South African and Botswana Diaspora, are equal descendants of the victims of Genocide in Namibia, just like their Namibian counterparts. Causing to render their voices in the current campaign and demand for REPARATION muted, subdued and peripheral. Naturally, fellow descendants of the victims of Genocide in South Africa and Botswana, should have their governments as their natural allies in our common demand for REPARATION. But it is not clear today where both the governments of Botswana and South Africa stand on this vexed issue. Pilgrims to South Africa to celebrate with fellow descendants have shown that the South African government is not averse to our REPARATION demand from the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. There’s thus a fertile ground there for the South African government to standing behind their citizens but of Namibian descent on this cause. Only if there was better
focus from Namibia to help fellows in South Africa to sharpen their focus in this regard. And likewise in Botswana.
Needless to say this was part of the grand vision of Comrade “Hosea” for the Ovaherero Descendants Foundation in the Republic of South Africa, and indeed for the broader REPARATION campaign. He has established the necessary network and laid a fertile ground in South Africa and beyond to further nature awareness about the Genocide of the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama. He may not have finished the race in this regard. But this is and could not have been his race alone. But for all of us. We who are surviving him surely ow it to him and others to finish the race to honour his good memory and keep his legacy alive forever.