Powerful shaping factors
Views are influenced by various things; here we take a look at the hurdle the youth went through in political streams.
28 July 2020 | Youth
Political opinions and attitudes are a vital part of who we are and how we construct our identities. In light of this, The Zone caught up with some young individuals on what shaped their political views and whether or not family ties had a role to play.
Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah said contrary to the perception that young people don’t understand politics, they actually do and have views on things they like and desire.
Kamwanyah said they may not take part in elections, but that does not necessary mean that the youth does not understand politics.
“Any efforts to promote young people’s participation in politics must first acknowledge that they are not empty vessels, but people with ideas and opinions on various political issues affecting them. That means we must start from what they know, want and desire about politics,” he said.
Effects of ancestry
When asked whether uninformed youth agree with their ancestry on politics, Kamwanyah said the hypothesis requires research to test the effects of ancestry on the views of the youth, and added that it is also true that an uninformed process leads to poor decisions or choices.
“The same is true for an uninformed youth; their views on politics might be influenced by others, including their parents,” he said.
Kamwanyah added that a political ideology plays an important role in shaping and structuring how society should work and be organised, and is central in influencing individuals’ behaviours and actions towards each other.
“An ideology is a set of beliefs, ideas or principles. It tends to divide people along continuums in terms of how society should organise and function. Worse, a political ideology can also lead to conflict when beliefs are deeply embedded,” he said.
Kamwanyah further said it is time young people acknowledge they have a lot of good ideas to offer and that they can bring a lot to the political table.
“They must know that they have their own interests, apart from the older people, worthy to advocate for,” he expressed.
Youth leader and Landless People's Movement member of parliament Utaara Mootu said her political views are dominantly shaped by the impoverished conditions of the people of Katutura, which where she grew up.
“Katutura exposed me to socialism through the culture of ubuntu largely practiced in the community. As a child, I had no idea what socialism was, but the ‘I am because you are' philosophy was evident in Katutura,” she said.
Mootu said the reluctance to adequately address the humanitarian and economic conditions of her fellow citizens as a requirement for restorative justice has made her develop a great need to stand up for those whose rights to live a dignified life were stripped.
Growing up in a patriarchal society, with women and children constantly victims of gender-based violence (GBV), Mootu became interested in the waves of feminist movements, aimed at liberating women from the systematic shackles of oppression.
“Movements such as #MeToo continue to shape my articulation around the anti-women policies and practices in organisations.”
Additionally, she said Namibia's liberation struggle greatly influenced her political views and the constant struggle to liberate.
“In contradiction, the way these ideologies have been articulated and implemented has distorted the transfer of this views into those that reflect the reality on the ground, which has created a new chain of thinking deviating from the main umbrella for me,” she said.
Mootu added that her family played a role in her views.
“My grandfather was active in the Herero chief council and used his position working for the mayor as an opportunity to help fellow activists in the struggle. My father is a staunch land activist, he has been fighting for resettlement since 1998 to date. This enlightened me on the land question and the unjust sentiment policies implemented.”
Nature of politics
Mootu said the nature of politics is about who gets what, when and how, and added that how one can ensure this is understood by the youth is to conduct civic education, which includes educating them on their rights.
“Emphasise their right to have an opinion, the right to express those opinions and the right for their opinions to be protected. Further, the culture of activism should be normalised. Although, it is very difficult to articulate the nature of politics without directly influencing views at the level at which youth are awakening their conscious,” she said.
Mootu added that the transfer of political views from one generation to another is like an ancient tale. The more it is narrated to different generations, it is reflected differently based on current circumstances. It may even be altered, but the aim of the message should remain the same, she said.
Contextual political needs
The chairperson of Southern African Youth Forum, Patience Masua, said her political views are shaped by her understanding of the contextual political needs of Namibia and the ability of the incumbent regime to deliver on that mandate.
“The roots of my political beliefs lie in the principles upon which we were raised. Therefore, my family had a big influence in what I believe in politically, because it’s upon those very political beliefs that we base our activism and hold accountable our leaders,” she said.
Micheal Nashiwaya, a Namibian studying in the United States, said what shaped his political views was the internet, the cartoons he watched and his social life with family and friends.
“It first started off with the movies and shows I watched as a kid. Most of them were American or British and although many people don’t see it, TV teaches moral codes.”
Nashiwaya said the elders in his family always told them fighting wasn’t good and talking it out was better.
“So now you have a very critical childhood of cartoon principles of creativity and openness and a family and nation that was about peace. So, I naturally was about diplomacy and never being negative to new changes and ideas.”
He added that access to the internet and catching onto the new wave of progressive ideas on the web that were new to the world at the time made him very liberal.
“I supported ideas of improving the world through constant change. So, Model United Nations and debate club in school shaped my views, because you meet so many people who have different ideas,” he said.
Walvis Bay junior mayor Kuundjuane Kavari said, currently, young people's views on politics are based on which politician or political party is serving in their best interest.
“Many young people have now taken their stance and no longer follow the traditional political affiliation of their family but opt to go for what they feel and see is right for them,” he said.
Kavari added that he comes from a political family but that most of his family members are not affiliated to any political party, thus he shaped his own views on politics.