Foreign Policy Blogs

Introducing This Blog

Welcome to this Foreign Policy Association blog dedicated to Southern Africa. This blog is an inside perspective on latest news, discussion, analysis, and commentary in Namibia and Zimbabwe. Although Namibia and Zimbabwe are the main focus of my attention, I also expect to be posting on other countries in Southern Africa.

I suspect that politics will be the dominant theme of my postings, but my intention is to use this space to provide information about everything African (from politics to everyday life) in the Southern African region, a region that I am familiar with than other regions of the continent.

In fact, let me start this blog off by introducing you (for those of you not acquainted with Namibia and Zimbabwe) to some of the terms, concepts, and acronyms you might come across while reading this blog.

BEE is a program in Namibia for empowering the previously disadvantage group (blacks and coloreds) by providing them with economic opportunities previously not available to them. Like in South Africa, Namibia’s BEE is being criticized for being elite-oriented instead of broad-base.

Breaking the Wall of Silence is an organization formed by surviving former SWAPO detainees in Namibia to press the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) and the SWAPO-government to apologize and clear their names. SWAPO denies any wrong doing, and insists that discussing the detainee issue would reverse the peace and stability Namibia has been enjoying since independence.

Cde an abbreviation for Comrade (derived from French meaning of friend/ally) friend/ally) is mostly associated with current ruling parties (former liberation movements) in Namibia (SWAPO), Zimbabwe (ZANU-PF), and South Africa (ANC) where it has often become a yardstick for measuring patriotism. It therefore follows that anyone who disagree or challenge the ruling party is seen as not a comrade, and therefore often label as reactionary or unpatriotic element.

Chimurenga is s a Shona word for struggle, referring to Zimbabwe’s struggle against British colonial rule 1896-1897 (First Chimurenga), and the guerrilla war against the white minority regime of Ian Smith 1966-1980 (Second Chimurenga). The modern interpretation of “Chimurange”, extends to human rights, music,and social justice struggle, including land reform (which the Zimbabwe government refers as Third Chimurenga).

Detainees in the Namibian context refers to former SWAPO members detained and tortured (many of them disappeared without a trace) by SWAPO in Exile during the liberation struggle before independence. They were suspected of being spies and collaborating with the apartheid regime of South Africa.

The apartheid regime of South Africa also detained, tortured and killed many Namibians it suspected of supporting the liberation movement.

Gukurahundi, which means early rain in Shona, is the military operation code word used by the Mugabe regime against a civilian uprising in the Matebeleland in the 1980s Critics of the Mugabe regime sees some recurring patterns in thinking between Gukurahundi (“the early rain which washes away the chaff) in the 1980s, and Murambatsvina (‘clearing out the trash’) operation in squat camps in 2000

Hibernator. A term used by the ruing Swapo party to describe people within its ranks or in the government structures suspected of infiltrating or undermining the Swapo party and the government program.

Katutura, meaning “we are not settled” in Otjiherero, is a township created in 1961 in Windhoek-Namibia following the forced removal of blacks and coloreds from their Old Location in Windhoek to create way for a white location/township.

“Kapana,’ grilled beef sold at Namibian open markets, is the soul food of the country’s rich and poor, especially during lunch hours.

“Kapena yilonga” means ‘there is no job here in Oshikwanyama. This is a phrase most commonly heard and read by poor, uneducated job-seekers in Namibia’s urban townships, especially in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party in the House of Assembly of Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) is the main faction formed from the split of the original Movement for Democratic Change in 2005, and is headed by founder Morgan Tsvangirai. The other MDC faction is headed by Arthur Mutambara known as MDC-M

Mutete, a delicious local spinach in the vaKavango speaking Namibian culture. I have to admit, mutate is my favorite local cuisine!

Ndjambi, the vaKavango speaking Namibian cultural practice of community cooperative spirit of helping each other on a rotation basis, such as the cultivation of one family’s land by all in the community to ensure equal means of production. The essence here is the African belief that it takes everybody to make the society better for all in the same community.

Ndjala (or nzala in Tonga-Zambia) a Vanyemba (an African language spoken in Angola, Namibia and Zambia) word for hunger.

Omusati clique, a phrase that refer to the unmitigated influence and control yielded by few certain individuals from the Omusati region within the ruling party Swapo.

Operation Murambatsvina or Operation Drive out Trash/Rubbish, is a crackdown campaign by the Government of Zimbabwe to clear slum areas across Zimbabwe which was launched in 2005. The campaign forcibly left, mostly the poor, more than 1 million Zimbabweans homeless and destitute.

“Opo tolongo opo toli” literally means ‘eating while working’ in Oshiwambo, is a useful phrase for understanding corruption tendencies among politicians and public servants in Namibia.

Opposition, in the context of Southern Africa, Opposition party refers to any party other than the ruling party (the party that is in control of the government). On the other hand, official opposition party refers to an opposition party that have second majority in parliament in terms of seats allocation.

Pambili, (pamberi in the Shona langauge) a Ndebele word, for ‘let’s march forward’, used as political slogan by Zimbabwe’s National liberation Movements during the national struggle.

Rally for Democracy and Progress (a breakaway faction launched in 2007 by former leading members of the ruling Swapo party), is an opposition political party in Namibia.

During Namibia’s Presidential and National Assembly at the end of November last year, the party became the new official opposition party in the National Assembly, but the party has boycotted the parliament, and subsequently launched (with some other smaller opposition parties) a court case, challenging the outcomes of the election results.

The High Court tossed out (on a technical basis) the case, but egged on by claims of widespread irregularities and violations of Namibia’s Electoral Act, the RDP-led coalition lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has since heard the case and judgment is reserved.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) is an inter-governmental organization created to further socio-economic, political and security cooperation among 15 Southern African states.

South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), a former liberation movement, is the current governing party in Namibia since independence in 1990. To avoid using the party’s original name, which derives from “South West Africa” (Namibia’s colonial name), the party’s official name today is Swapo party of Namibia.

Ubuntu, being human’ or ‘humanness’ in some of the Bantu language expressions in Southern Africa. The central idea of this concept is the African ‘take care of each other’ philosophy of “I am because we are.”

Viva (from Spanish and Latin meaning of long live) is a word commonly used by former liberation movements (now ruling parties) in Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa to express salute or applause.

Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF is a ruling party in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 under Robert Mugabe.

For the first time in the history of the party, ZANU-PF lost sole control of the parliament to a combined majority of MDC-T and MDC-M in the 2008 parliamentary election.



Ndumba J. Kamwanyah

Ndumba Jonnah Kamwanyah, a native of Namibia in Southern Africa, is an independent consultant providing trusted advice and capacity building through training, research, and social impact analysis to customers around the world. Mos recently Ndumba returned from a consulting assignment in Liberia in support of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
In his recent previous life Ndumba taught (as an Adjunct Professor) traditional justice and indigenous African political institutions in sub-Saharan Africa at the Rhode Island College-Anthropology Department.

He is very passionate about democracy development and peace-building, and considers himself as a street researcher interested in the politics of everyday life.
Twitter: NdumbaKamwanyah