Transparency has always been an African norm
Ecclesiastes: 7:2 “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for that is the end of all man; …”
“Uuyamba wOmukwaniilwa owu li mOshigwana. Wo uuyamba wOshigwana owu li kOmukwaniilwa.
I guess what President Hage is trying to say is: Things have slightly changed. Let’s learn to achieve more with the little we have.” Apart from Biblical time, when last did you hear a leader stretching his hand of leadership in the modern world?
Transparency has always been an important attribute of any leadership role. Back then Kings and Queens would declare their assets to their subjects. One could easily identify the piece of land where the king or queen does their agriculture that took care of their daily food requirements. One could even identify the cattle that is from the king’s or Queen’s kraal, through the cattle’s fat and healthy appearance.
It was common for the subjects to know that the King or Queen possessed a gold field although not able to quantify the amount of gold in that field. The declaration by the First family of their assets and liabilities is a reminder to the rest of nation that “take me as I am for I am no better than you. I am the First Family because you said so.”
I regrettably differ with some of the media announcements that the First family had borrowed this openness from the Western world. The difference here is that in our African contexts, such declarations were not done through media platforms.
The Kings and Queens had close subjects who would be privy to this information, and as confidential the information was, these subjects would not disclose this type of information to any third parties, who in most cases would not need the information. Back then, these subjects wouldn’t even compare themselves with what the King or Queen possessed, they wouldn’t aspire to surpass the King or Queen in terms of wealth accumulation.
They knew once they do so, then calling themselves as the King’s subjects would be received by others as untrue and deceitful. They knew that if they tried to compete with the King, chances are high that they would end up attacking or taking advantage of the King’s weakest points and if you keep expanding on those weakness, you and I know the end result.
The yesteryear subjects really walked together with their leaders, protecting him/her from all ills that may endanger his/her rule. Any intruder could be easily identified and dealt with by the subjects, with the king/queen even not noticing it. Such was the unity and such was the trust.
My generation has the tendency of changing the way it does things. You will even notice this in the way my generation dresses. Today we dress like Africans and tomorrow we embrace the European way of dressing and later even like Asians.
We should be able to follow our African way as subjects and be subjects that can be relied upon. As Africans why are we putting our leaders in the open to be salvaged by the deadly creatures that are roaming around in this diverse universe?
Are we trying to push our leaders in certain corners so that we see their fighting skills? Or are we putting them in the open, whilst at the same time calling on the world to scrutinize and publicize our leader’s weaknesses.
Although I am not an expert in modern day politics, my conscience tells me that such action will leave our leaders vulnerable to the opposition (and here I am not talking about the DTAs of this world) and also has the potential to create functionalism and breed anarchy. Once the latter have rooted, guess what, that will be the end of us.
Peke lyOmukwaniilwa opo hapu liwa.” The question is: How do you eat from the King’s hand if you don’t know what’s there? Your guess is as good as mine.
The First family’s declaration of their assets and liabilities have shown us that we have a President who would like to lead a country that is corruption free and transparent and one that offers every Namibian an equal opportunity.
Some may say that the financial information that was availed to the public was not enough, and rightly said, I feel the information was enough for the intended audience, which is the public. Yesteryear leaders released information to people who needed it, and they did this for security and transparency reasons.
As I listened to the Assets/Liabilities declarations by the First family, I was convinced that this would go a long way in installing the same to all the ‘subjects’ who everyday say that they share the same vision with the President.
Maybe the ‘subjects’ still require more information on when the President invested in his shares or How much he has received so far as dividends. Is the share certificate signed in black or blue ink or that is the share certificates with the bank or with the lawyers? Really!!!
What the First family declared is what they possess and if there are subjects who feel that the information is incomplete, then I think they can approach the President himself to register their concerns.
I am sure the President will want to see the share certificates of the “other” investments not declared. If indeed what the President declared is by far “less” than what the subjects’ personal net worth, then that shouldn’t be a reason why some of us feels the exercise wasn’t transparent. The First family didn’t do this exercise so that they can show the leadership qualities that are expected of all public office bearers, and definitely not for people to compare and contrast on what they possess themselves.
A wedding can take months to plan, the same with any economic, social and political gathering. However, all these plans can be derailed by one thing, and unfortunately death. People never plan for death and death doesn’t spare anyone, both rich or poor, old and young, black and white. And in death, the same as in mourning there is no substitution. There is no compensation for pain, and there is no replacement upon death. One can’t instruct one to mourn on one’s behalf.
As humanly as he is, the President of Namibia travelled on a short notice to mourn the death of a 92 year old woman, who has been a widow for the last four decades, raising the nine biological children and tens of others from the extended family by her own. A woman who became a model figure in the community that she lived in and became a mother figure to many families including the First family.
Some of the subjects again had issues with this visit. They didn’t take it lightly that the President has attended the funeral of the mother of one of his subject. A mother, whom the President possibly took as his own. A mother who would advise a serving leader the same way he would advise her own children. However, it is disheartening to note that this his visit wasn’t well received by some of the subjects, with reports accusing the First family of choosing to attend a funeral over attending a celebration. Not taking anything away from the importance of the 12th May Movement, a day we celebrate the life of the Founding Father, a day that will be held annually as long as SWAPO Party exists, celebrating it regionally on a rotational basis to ensure that even the upcoming generation will appreciate and emulate the leadership qualities of Tate Shafiishuna.
As one of the people who were having a funeral the same time my fellow comrades were having a celebration, my sister and I have understood that in life not all will take place as planned due to unforeseen circumstances. We also had to be with the Comrades in Central Namibia, but unfortunately we also had to see to it that my mother received a befitting burial which we owed to her as her only surviving children.
We understand that the President came to this funeral as a family member and had to send his representatives at the celebration. On my part, I couldn’t assign any representative for my mother’s funeral, and I would like to also believe that the President couldn’t sent a representative to my mother’s burial. Its un-African to let someone mourn on your behalf. Biblically, Mary and Martha said that if Jesus was around, their brother Lazarus could not have died. They said this upon Jesus coming to their home to offer his condolences’. Jesus didn’t send Peter, Thomas or Judas.
by Nangombe dha Ndadala