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"The Future of Namibian Leadership: The imperatives, pitfalls and values"

Statement By Cde Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Secretary General
19TH MARCH 2012

Director of the Proceedings;
Cde Mandela Kapere, Executive Chairman of the National Youth Council (NYC);
Board Members;
Mr. Herold Stanley Binda, Principal A. Shipena Senior Secondary School;
Teachers and Learners of this school;
Invited Young people of our country;
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is with great joy that I join you this afternoon. It is my firm believes that the young people are the future of this country. That is an entitlement which bears both the joy and the burden at the same time. As we gather in this school today what a joy it is to reminisce that this is indeed a historic school named after one of the freedom fighter, an icon of Namibian's liberation struggle and a young person who dedicated his life to the cause of freedom and justice for all and who eventually sacrificed his life for Namibia's independence, the late Ananias Shipena. This school has earned itself a place in the glorious history of Namibian for having produced past and present leaders who contributed immensely to the liberation struggle of our country many of whom served under the flagship of the Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO). The students' bravery and commitment of that time to the liberation activities made the racist minority South African Apartheid government ineffective. We shall continue to be indebted to their sacrifices.

Director of Proceedings;

I am told this interface is created to specifically create an interaction between the young generation and the older generation in order for us to learn from each other and interconnect with one another in order to make Namibia better. The youth have always been the innovators, the big dreamers. Equally, the youth have been gifted with a natural ability to bring forth to life such big ideas, henceforth, it is my firm believe that the young people must be allowed the space and freedom to freely expound on their dreams as the future which awaits them reserves challenges they themselves will have to face all by themselves.

Director of Proceedings;

I am invited to address this august gathering of our young people on the topic: The Future of Namibian Leadership: The Imperatives, Pitfalls and Values. This topic is truly relevant and timely and to the right audience as well. The 2011 census indicates that 70% of the total population of the country is young people. Frantz Fanon rightly put it in his masterpiece of 1961 entitled: The Wretched of the Earth, he states that "each generation must out of its relative obscurity, either fulfill its mission or betray it.

What is the mission of our youth? Do they have a mission if I may rhetorically ask this question?

In the blue-print for Namibia's development objective, Vision 2030 document, the Government of the Republic of Namibia states and I quote: "...youth are major human resource for development and key for social change, economic development and technological innovation. Developing the capacity of the youth in own development and national development, will not only have a major positive impact on short-term social and economic conditions, but also on the well-being and livelihood of future generations. However, youth are often perceived as not yet being productive or contributing members of society, and are sometimes overlooked..".

In other words, the youth in the Namibian context are the catalyst for economic development, social change and technological innovation.

Director of Proceedings;

The facts of our historical heritage tells us the challenges of the yester year's youth of the Hendrik Witboois, Mandume Ya Ndemufayos, Nehale Lya Mpinganas, Iipumbu Ya Tshilongos, Samuel Mahareros and followed by the generation of the Nujomas the Pohambas the Nanyembas, the Moses Garoebs others.

What is not yet told is the history of the generation that followed them as human history is a continuum. The history of the Martin Shalis, of this world the Ndaxu Namholos, the Philemon Malimas, yours truly and many others of their generation will have to be recognized and told in order to give a true and complete picture of the fight for the liberation of our country as we know it today. While the challenges of the early anti colonial resistance was to fight the colonial invasion of the respective tribal homelands, the generation of the forties to the sixties had the challenges of creating organizational framework which would rally Namibians behind them to create enough synergy in order to expel the colonial forces from the country as a whole.

The generation of the seventies to the eighties meanwhile had the most difficult task of taking the actual battle to the enemy and concluding it with the battle of Quito qua Naval in 1989. And that closed the chapter of the armed liberation struggle through the act of independence on the 21st March 1990.

Each generation, fortunately or unfortunately has to face its own generational challenges, which invariably also shape the thinking and preparedness required for the cohorts. It is through the preoccupation of the means to overcome those challenges that would-be leaders and heroes automatically emerge.

Director of Proceedings;

The 21st century has dawned upon the African continent in diverse ways. Globalisation and technological revolution has entrenched itself. So is the urgency for industrialization and innovation to be at an absolute advantage for certain goods in the world market.

Whilst the euphoria about this being the African century dominated the entrance into the century, Africa and for that matter, Namibia remains at critical levels of under-development, under-industrialization, and at best virgin and untapped. We are in the age of knowledge-based economy where innovation is the key driver to economic development.

Amidst and despite the above discouraging scenario, the African people still yearn for the eradication of poverty, sustainable development through enterprise development and people-centered economic development.

In its annual World Development Report 2007, the World Bank indicated that youth aged 12-24 has reached a total of 1.3 billion, the largest in world history. The Report notes that today's youth are the healthiest and best educated, creating a social and economic base to meet current and future needs of humanity. Furthermore, both the United Nations Millennium Development Goals 2015 and Vision 2030 policy documents expound extremely difficult environment under which young people live, ranging from HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, high rates of school drop-outs, poverty and inequality, poor nutritional status of many households, unemployment, lack of sufficient expertise and so forth.

The expressed concern is made that all the above contemporary ills "....contribute towards an unhealthy environment for the youth of today and poor prospects for the future."

We have achieved political freedom. We have always been mindful that the political independence is meaningless if it is not accompanied by economic independence. We must acknowledge that the economy is still in the hands of the minorities and our people are still suffering from abject poverty.

I would safely argue that most of these social ills have their root cause in lack of education. If we address education we shall have addressed not just the symptoms but the cause. Our responsible government is cognizant of the above challenges and has developed a number of interventions to mitigate the escalation of the challenges at hand.

The reality on the ground is shared by H.E Cde Hifikepunye Pohamba, who opined during the launch of Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG) that "Prolonged youth unemployment has far reaching consequences, including shattered dreams, loss of identities, and lack of zeal for life in general." I recall the words of a young Swiss Mayor who said, "Young people are not always right, but a society that fails to give them a voice will always be wrong." Are we ready as the youth of Africa to take up the unique challenge with vigour and determination? Can we endure and sustain the struggle towards the total economic emancipation of our people?

Director of Proceedings;

The young people have an opportunity to jump on the revolutionary train leading towards Vision 2030. We would like to see you seize that opportunity with both hands. Do not be afraid to do so: it is yours. Take it and run with it. In seizing the opportunity before you, it is imperative that you consider the following: Before you attempt to position yourself in the economic struggle, you need to be organised. This is so because we are continuously advised by our Founding President Cde Sam Nujoma that "the greatest weapon used against Africans is disorganisation".

It is thus befitting to state that organisation is the foundation of all development, progress and advancement. Any youth who is not organised will essentially not know where he or she is coming from and will hence have no direction where he or she needs to go to. History has shown us that societies that are not organized are eliminated by stronger societies. Young people must therefore, get organised and protect your destiny and defend the continent from the forces of imperialism.

The ultimate tool of success lies in unity of action. This essentially means that the youth must at all times be united and rally behind causes and actions aimed at uplifting society and the people at large.

It is unity that allowed Africa to free itself politically from imperialism and it is only unity that can bring about genuine economic independence. This is confirmed by H.E Julius Mwalimu Nyerere, the first President of Tanzania who once advised that "without unity, there is no future for Africa."

Therefore, that unity that was championed by the latter leaders of our political revolution is relevant to our economic generation, especially the youth. We must henceforth reach beyond ourselves and strive to sacrifice for the benefit of others. The youth can only achieve fruits of their struggle if they pay more attention to the advice of the Founding President who teaches that, 'a united people fighting for the common good of all members of society shall always emerge victorious'.

To succeed, I challenge the youth to watch out for the pitfalls and avoid them at all times. Guard yourselves against blame, defensiveness and stonewalling. These are the biggest sins and betrayal we can commit to our economic revolution. I encourage all young people to embrace forward –looking, visionary, hard work, excellence, professionalism and respect for diversity as your core values.

Finally, I urge you to always keep in mind that great leaders develop great people who make a great nation who in turn achieve great results. In conclusion, I am humbled to leave you with an ancient African proverb that state that "the future belongs to those who prepares for it today."

Our generation, like the one before us, believes that our people are capable of leading ourselves; that we and only we could lead this nation to greatness. It is for that opportunity that we were willing to pay the highest price. The youth have an opportunity to define themselves and find their unique role in the second phase of our struggle. The hour of history which has brought us to the said phase is a revolutionary hour. It is the hour of decision. The hour to make that historic decision is now.

More than ever, the continent and Namibia in particular need a kind of youth which Anton Lembede, the first President of the ANC Youth League described and challenged that "We are not called to peace, comfort and enjoyment, but to hard work, struggle and sweat. We need young men and women of high moral stamina and integrity; of courage and vision. In short, we need warriors. This means that we have to develop a new type of youth of stoical discipline, trained to endure suffering and difficulties. It is only this type of youth that will achieve the national liberation of the African people".



I thank you





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