Open Cards: Modern Youth and failure to communicate

March 3, 2015, 9:43am

Modern youths and failure to communicate

John Walenga

There is a seemingly growing generational gap that is developing in the Namibian socio political landscape. This generational gap is one that is encompassed by different thinking and beliefs in different ideologies.

While the youth of the immediate pre and post-independence struggle were more concerned about finding a niche way of communicating certain political issues to their elders in a manner that guaranteed them audience the modern day youth seem to be stuck between purported radicalism and lack of diplomacy.

Although a closer look at some of the youths of the immediate post-independence including the likes of Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Frans Kapofi (he represents a generation we took over from), and Ignatius Shixwameni (forget what you know now. Very few can match his credentials. You know how we wiped together the day you left Swapo Party), Pohamba Shifeta, Dr Bernard Haufiku etc seem to have shaped vibrant and respectable politicians I am not sure if the same cannot be said about the modern day youths. Don’t get me wrong, the list is endless. Michael Jimmy and Elia Irimari can write a better account on the NANSO which took over from the era of Shixuameni, Dr Haufiku and Shifeta. Nico kaiyamo would perhaps educate you more on the NANSO of Paul kalenga’s era.

 While Kaunda Luther Moongo and Christian Damaseb Awene shall enlighten you more on PLAN activities in and around the Northern Front (let me hasten to state without contradiction that not everybody dawned a SWATF or Koevoet uniform was a traitor). Hope there will be enough time to tell the HONEST TRUTH as to how the liberation war was won. Hence I am just narrowing my encounter to my past and immediate interaction with new members of parliament. General Martin Shalli and company owes this nation great deal of stories regarding that era.


What is there to be said about Dr Nickey Iyambo apart from the fact that he is probably the coolest and sober-minded head left in that house? Katrina Hanse-Himarua has always been true to her self since time in memorial.

She is a typical PLAN fighter who answers to “ina mu shi itavela type of indoctrination.” She can stand her ground until directed otherwise by Hifikepunye Pohamba. Tom Alweendo is a technocrat who over years has proven that he doesn’t have to become a hard core politician in order for him to stand out. Don’t ask me how he will fair on the political stage (koondoloma) come next regional and local authority elections.

However, Calle Schlettwein should be his role model in that aspect. My mothers, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwa should have known better that NONE of them could make it to the top without the support of the other. Obeth Kandjoze, Anna Nghipondoka, Itah Kandjii Murangi and Anna Shiweda it will be interesting to watch your transition from your colour-full technocratic background into future political leaders of The Land of The Brave. Avoid the juju approach of my niece Dr Beki Ndjoze-Ojo went through.

Take it easy, editor allowing me a second bite on the same, I shall run through the other 80% members of Parliament whom I know personally including the energetic and charismatic McHenry Venaani, the leader of the soon to be rebranded official opposition. 

Perhaps the reality is that the modern day youths have adopted their way of engagement through direct confrontation. While there are realistic challenges faced by modern day youths including unavailability of tertiary institutions, high tertiary educational fees and unavailability of land it seems most of the youths struggle to crack a communication code with their political elders especially the old guard. Either the old guard view the youth exuberance as a direct attack on their hegemony or the youth themselves have just failed to come up with a soft, direct and effective way of tackling issues behind the scenes that no one would ignore.

Perhaps the most difficult situation for the modern day youth as compared to the 90s generation is to know that noise does not communicate but rather diplomacy and engagement behind the scenes gets the message across. The only other time you would need to make as much noise (if at all) is when you have clinched your rewards diplomatically.


A closer look at Kuugongelwa-Amadhila born 12 October 1967 shows that she is one of the very few breeds of youths who have managed to hold her own in the difficult political environment where patriarchy is the order of the day.

While many would view her as a soft and calculative minister she has developed a way of getting things done and conveys her messages rather conservatively but firm.

She has managed to steer Namibia’s fiscal policies prudently and has seen the country being one of the very few African countries that ever caries the begging bowl to the Bretton woods institutions for help. This somewhat is now a peculiar scenario in most African countries who rely on budget subsidies from institutions including the World Bank and International Monitory Fund. Perhaps it will be interesting as well to mention that these bailouts do not come without stringent repayment conditions.

 A long serving member of Swapo Party Central Committee, Kuugongelwa Amadhila  has been a member of the National Assembly of Namibia since 1995 and Minister of Finance since 2003 but her exploits have been tremendous in both respects.

Perhaps as one of those still considered young in the revolutionary party the biggest heartbreak for her was when she recently failed to make it to the politburo of the party. I am personally yet to recover from the same. Interesting enough, the “political setback” has never influenced her judgment in executing her work as Minister of Finance.

Others rightly interpreted her failure to be in the politburo as a confirmation that modern day politics seem to be failing to reward success and delivery but rather awarding those with a vocal ability regardless of whether thy meet the expectations or of the country or not.

Maybe if this notion is anything to go by then that is an unfortunate era of our generation as one day we shall be dominated by anarchist while reasonable and firm minds are given a back seat simply because they are not loud enough.


Born in OkahaoOmusati, Kuugongelwa went into exile with SWAPO in 1980 and left for Sierra Leone in 1982 at the age of 15. She attended Koidu Girls Secondary School from 1982 to 1984 and Saint Joseph's Secondary School from 1984 to 1987. From 1991 to 1994, Kuugongelwa attended Lincoln University in PennsylvaniaUnited States, where she graduated from with a degree in economics.

Her educational background albeit with minimum war credentials has also shaped her as one of the women with ability to raise issues considered sensitive in public and have them solved.

The Omusaati native returned to Namibia following graduation from Lincoln and took a position as a desk officer in the Office of the President under Sam Nujoma. At the age of 27 in 1995, Kuugongelwa was named Director General of the National Planning Commission. She was appointed as Minister of Finance in 2003. Accordingly, her knowledge on Namibia’s financial sector is unmatched.


On Heroes' Day 2014 she was conferred the Most Brilliant Order of the Sun, Second Class. That was no accident.

She has been one of the most influential ministers since graduating from the youth league. Saara was instrumental in the renegotiation of SACU revenue formula. She is also one of the ministers who were credited for driving the SADC financial integration agenda. She has managed to keep Namibia as a debt free country. Although rather a quiet and diplomatic person her influence in government cannot be underestimated as she has been a resolute member of the cabinet in the past 15 years.


Her Strength


Saara has proven herself in execution of her duties that, one need to appreciate all the details, before concluding. As such she reads a lot.


The other attribute of Saara is her ability to guide. “Having known the finance sector, she is able to articulate and propose necessary policy changes, aimed at bringing tangible results. She is known to be advocating for changes and reform within financial institutions to be in conformity with the current environment. Thus she is never complacent, but always strive to seek for change. “For her change must be what is better than the current, that is practical, achievable and lasting,” says I-Ben Nashandi during a casual discussion with Yours Truly.



Her weakness is her strength at the same time. She has to register the fact that you can only exude motherly love up to a point. If she can master the same, I remain without doubt that she is ready to serve Namibia beyond a ministerial.