15 May 2009

Namibia: Towards a Reformed National Youth Service


On Friday, 10 October 2008, I authored an article entitled 'Politics, Youth and the Market' that came before you in the newspaper for a new Namibia (New Era), in which I brought to you dear readers, my perspective of the National Youth Service.

At the end of the article I axiomatically indicated to you; 'Till second half', a truism to signify that I will come back again. Today, dear readers, fellow citizens and friends, I am hence coming to accomplish my promise and finish what I have started even though the expedition is far from ending. As you read this piece, I urge you to have the picture of the blue sky and the evergreen paradise, as in these two lie the hoped-for metaphorical depiction of the future of our country.

NamRock (Namibia) is a unity in diversity, which goes to say that our country is a congregation of people from various ethnic, tribal and racial backgrounds. In a new NamRock, all these differences ought to be harnessed and perhaps ideally fade away for us to create a common identity that will give a true meaning of being a NamRock citizen, an identity that is known by our citizen with an understanding of our collective interest (Agenda, needs and aspirations, dreams, goals and targets and also challenges).

Creating good citizens, loyal to NamRock is our collective duty that should be spearheaded by our state to which we capitulated our sovereignty to. We do not under the status quo, create good and loyal citizens.

Corruption, nepotism and tribalism can be attributed to the fact that we fail to create loyal citizens. Our people are more loyal to their tribes and ethnic groups rather than to the country. One prefers to give a job to a family member, tribesmen and a fellow race-men or fellow ethnic-men.

In a way, our fight against corruption is channeled towards treating the symptoms (corrupt acts and practices) and creating awareness but we do not look at one of the fundamental causative factors which is our failure to create good and loyal citizens who understand our collective interest.

If our people understand our collective interest, and are loyal to a NamRock itinerary, then they will not narrowly delineate their Namibianism from a tribal perspective. Even when our people go to other countries, there have been cases where one says first from what tribe or ethnic group they come from before stating that they are NamRock citizens.

One will opt to have a fellow tribesman as his assistance, secretary or in a nutshell, we want to encircle ourselves not just with NamRocks but with NamRocks that resemble us. As ugly as this might be, it is the reality that we cannot run away from and in my argument, I attribute this to the fact that our citizens are not loyal to the country nor do they understand our collective interest. Perhaps our identity from a tribal, ethnic, racial viewpoint is well defined and made known to us throughout our years of existence compared to our identity as a nation. Once upon a time, (during the liberation struggle) our identity was well established thanks to the consciousness and the spirit of nationalism of my grandfather(s) and his fellow NamRocks during the time of his existence. We do less, in post-Independence NamRock in terms of pronouncing our national identity and our national collective interests.

In the whole African continent from south of the Sahara to Cape Town, from the Horn of Africa to the Senegalese coast where our people were sold, we have Africanized the western concept of the state.

We sleep in the same houses as our colonizers, eat the same food, speak the same language, same edifice, same institutions and we subscribe to the software system of white supremacy (capitalism), the system that was designed to benefit the long noses either directly or indirectly.

Some argue that we do not have a choice when it comes to the software system (capitalism) and white supremacy; it is either you shape in or you shape out.

It is my argument that we do have a choice, what we fundamentally fail in the African continent and NamRock in particular is to step back and take a look at the system and see if it benefits us, we do not even attempt to maneuver the system to meet our collective interest.

My students at my University find me eccentric when I tell them that I refuse to speak Afrikaans. The software system is engineered in a way that is comparable to the domino theory. Any change in the system therefore, its impact will be felt everywhere the system is in operation. The architectures of the system even have theory to interpret this system i.e. survival of the fittest and natural selection. Let me give you a practical example close to home (man-made world financial crisis) - if the financial institutions in Washington DC get penetrated by individual seeking to survive in the software system, the effects will be felt as far as the cuca shop in Opuwo.

Even though we are faced with all these predicaments on a daily basis; we do not still step back and ask ourselves about the system and its impact on our collective interest. The change or modification of the system to benefit us towards our collective interest ladies and gentlemen, dear readers and friends, will with no doubt require great levels of consciousness supplemented by good and loyal citizens.

The New National Youth Service

What we ought to ensure in the new NamRock is that when young people are growing up, they do understand and value our collective interest and are loyal to the country. The institution to inculcate these important values is the National Youth Service. We must renovate the National Youth Service from where it is and what it does to a service that is a pillar of consciousness, patriotism, national value system, Namibianism and a pillar to inculcate our collective interest in our youth.

We must renovate the institution toward becoming an institution that will create good and loyal citizens that will take NamRock to higher heights where our national set targets and goals, needs and aspirations will be realized. What is being advocated here is a situation whereby the National Youth Service is made obligatory should one aspire to enter a state owned tertiary institution, apply for a government scholarship/loan, apply for a government job both in State owned enterprises and in public administration, or any entitlement from the state.

We cannot afford to plot people at strategic places without giving them accurate orientation of our collective interest.

I should state that I make no apologies for my avowal, as for me, is to converse what is within me for the benefit of my country.

The new objectives of the National Youth Service will be to advocate a spirit of patriotism and orientation of our collective interest, create a vigorous and optimistic youth, perpetuation of the rule of law and constitutional obedience, nurture ethnic, tribal and racial amalgamation, promote national wellbeing, instill morality and pursuit of knowledge while at the same time developing social consciousness towards voluntary contribution to society. The new National Youth Service training program will be divided into three components which are - character building, nation building and community service component. The character building component should endeavour to effectively create admirable characteristics in youth which include the individual him/herself, their families, community and nation.

The training program in this component should offer self-development that is aimed at self-exploration of one's self traits followed by the development of inner strengths and then the captivation of our national collective interest.

The character building component should also develop youth into competent managers of relationships which includes individual's communication within groups, team work proficiency, leadership aptitude in guiding a group and finally team problem solving.

On the other hand, the nation building component is there to broaden youth's knowledge on nation building, deepening their love and keenness to contribute to NamRock, train youth on nation building issues that includes the state and the government, sovereignty and internal plus external challenges.

The content of this component should include first of all the history of our country, our constitution and other laws, and the economy of our country.

There should be orientation of the state, government and its administration, orientation on the significance of tribal, ethnic and racial solidarity and the role of citizens as NamRock's growth and development agents.

Youth should also be taught the importance of preservation and fortification of the country's sovereignty and finally consciousness of the challenges and threats arising from internal and external actors.

The last component in the new National Youth Service training program is the community service component.

z This component is architecture to inculcate youth volunteerism and civic responsibilities. To improve youth voluntary spirit, the program will expose youth to practical experience in neighbourhood social services, environment and public amenities. Volunteerism in the new training program will be revolutionalised by branching into youth researching selected theme locations and identifying existing problems, offering suggestions, carrying out rectification, cleaning, improvisation and beautification.

This component should practically look into things such as building and renovation of public amenities, restoration and preservation of environment, neighborhood projects, public agencies placement such as hospitals and social welfare homes.

It should be made emphatically clear here that the new National Youth Service should not be perceived as a military conscript but rather a training program that has been deliberately initiated to ignite a feeling of patriotism and greater love of NamRock.

A program is intended at nurturing patriotism and national harmony with all citizens understanding our collective interest and a program aimed at promoting perpetual national stability and wellbeing.

For a start the program is aimed to run through the amalgamation of inter-ethnic youth groups from every walk of life with an aspiration of producing a generation of disciplined, confident and a dignified youth ready to face and overcome challenges.

The new National Youth Service should be fully run in all 13 regions at nationwide a National Youth Service Training Institute (NYSTI). Each training institute will train 5 000 youth per year divisible in two terms (2500 each six month).

At the end of the year, as a nation, we would have trained 65 000 youths. The new National Youth Service must be calculated to be fun, inspirational, and memorable and should not be abusive in any manner.

It should have an approach of invigorating learning processes in experiential learning through practical involvement; its approach should emphasise on the spirit of benevolence and solidarity in all activities.

The principle gazed towards amalgamation is that youth are assigned to training institutes in other regions away from their home regions or places of residence. The age category 16-25 will be the new age for undergoing the training.

The Way Forward

Whether we want change or not, the need of creating loyal citizens, conscious of our collective interest will remain unresolved.

Without orientation and the captivation of our collective interest, we will still be giving jobs to our relatives, friends, tribesmen, race-men and those that relate to us. Without orientation and the captivation of our collective interest, we will still be thieving millions while thousands are going hungry, we will still be killing fellow brothers and sisters, and attacking and raping defenceless women and children, we will still be selling out our country and maintaining the software system of white supremacy.

This goes to say that NamRock! The time has come and the time is now for us to create good and loyal citizens towards achieving our goals and set targets. I have looked around for alternatives and found no other than the renovation of the National Youth Service to ensure that every youth knows exactly what it means to be a NamRock citizen and the responsibilities thereafter.

Mine, as a manufacture of knowledge, is to provide ideas and freely provide them to my compatriots. For others, is to take them as they are, others to fashion and panel beat them while others to use them as building blocks towards creating consciousness of our collective interest.

I find nothing cumbersome with my submission, as for you, is to scrutinize my little work and pick out what you can pick out, use it to the benefit of not only yourself but also that of others and our country.

As for you, is to scrutinize my work, critique it if you want not only to the pleasure of your ego but in a manner that at the end of the day, our collective interest and the agenda of building NamRock is enhanced.

As for you, dear leaders and comrades, is to join me in an advocacy campaign to pass a bill through our upper chamber that will see through these ideas, not Job Shipululo Amupanda's ideas per say, but rather Namrock's ideas that passed through him.

Fellow compatriots and friends, what have I shared with you today? I gave you a mirror to look at our country on issues surrounding citizenship, identity, our collective interest and the way forward.

In summary, I handsomely gave you freely the new objectives of the new National Youth Service in which I argued that it will be to advocate a spirit of patriotism and orientation of our collective interest, create a vigorous and optimistic youth, perpetuation of the rule of law and constitutional obedience, nurture ethnic, tribal and racial amalgamation, promote national wellbeing, instill morality and pursuit of knowledge while at the same time developing social consciousness towards voluntary contribution to society.

I also indicated to you that these objectives will be operationalised through the three components of the training program which includes character building, nation building and community service component.

In my argument I also enlighten you that the telos includes readiness for nation service, consciousness of our collective interest, patriotism and volunteerism and from the bigger picture this will lead to human security and subsequently national security.

Till second half - hear and be heard!

- Job Shipululo Amupanda is a final year political studies student.

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