By Staff Reporter
The late Hidipo Hamutenya’s son, Kela Hamutenya, may strike one as an apolitical youthful Namibian who happens to have been born in a family of Swapo’s propaganda chief, but he very much espouses the revolutionary spirit of his father.
This week, The Patriot caught up with him days after the Hamutenya family launched a concise pictorial of the liberation icon, a history of pictures chronicling a life scattered through the passages of war and exile and later a post-1990 dispensation.
HH is one of the towering figures in the narrative of Namibia’s recent history whose very short stature ironically cast a long shadow within Swapo and touched the very footstool of the highest office.
When The Patriot requested for an exclusive tete-a-tete with Hamutenya Jr, he was more than willing to open up and give his side of the story on the man he grew to know as a father of many whose environs were always donned with the blue, the red and green.
And so when he finally arrives at our rendezvous, just in time (a contrast to his late father who is remembered as a rebel of time), he does not waste time, and dives straight to the moment Hamutenya broke ranks with Swapo and formed the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP).
According to him, that was Swapo’s greatest theatre of the politics of democracy, one in which he, as he says, never hesitated to take part in, side by side with his father.
Hamutenya would form RDP, Swapo would suffer purges, the disintegration of erstwhile comrades and reformation and a heated smear campaign by comrades on comrades would change the face of Swapo forever.
But had he made a tactical error?
Affecting a bourgeoisie suit and his facebreaking into a smile with a fascinating exactitude to that of his father, Kela composes himself, shrugs a little before he carefully chooses his words.
Our meeting is quick as that of old friends, but in truth, this reporter was meeting this light-skinned youth for the very first time.
He likes being called Kela.
That cleared, we delve into the business why he has agreed to meet.
“As a party internally, I think a lot of people chose a direction of not playing the game as it should be played.
As our President says, play the ball and not the man,” his baritone voice cuts into the thickness of the October afternoon air.
Who played who?
Did he think his father was played, and how much does he know about the Swapo politics of the time, their uncertainties and intrigues?
“It’s been an ongoing thing. I think nobody can deny it that in Namibia that some of our politics and engagements between each other are deteriorating into personal attacks.
It’s very evident here from some of the attacks against the President and various leaders that we have gone away from fighting in the arena of ideas.
We had an experience of the attacks and things of that nature on the character of the man (his father) hence we felt compelled to put out a book so that those who want to have an opinion filtered from other people’s, they will have an opportunity in their own space. It’s not what we wrote ourselves but what other people said about him,” he says of the book.
The pictorial is wrapped in thick concealment, with the very face of it plastered by an iconic image of HH striking a typically diplomatic yet iconic pose, as if in communication with the some mystical antediluvian deity, a perfect prelude.
The book is a treasure trove of memories,
It is by no doubt, a kaleidoscope of HH’s exilic life, his most intimate moments in the realities of struggle from the trenches, and a personal connection with his wife first and the overall family second.
Through its pages, Kela can be seen growing into a young handsome man with a striking resemblance to his father, born in the uncertain environs of foreign lands, shifted from one camp to the other before taking the flight to the US for studies.
Despite being born in a powerful family, Kela says he was an apple that never fell far from the tree, espousing the revolutionary humanist character and principle of his father.
“I grew up in that revolutionary spirit and hence most of us in my family have that dedication towards Namibia,” he says.
Bur back to the “biggest democratic exercise that took place in 2004” as he fancies phrasing it, democracy, from the perspective of his father and equally him, did not prevail on the day.
“The outcome was accepted and we moved on. but unfortunately the harmonising from that congress (didn’t) carry on and I think it is still carrying on till today,” he reminisces.
HH had contested the candidature of equally another big gun of the past revolution, Hifikepunye Lukas Pohamba.
Pohamba had on his head the crowing hands of the Founding Father and equally so, the ranks and file of a party that had brought independence to Namibia.
He also had about him, the airs of a wise father on whose shoulders, the burden of Namibia would be thrusted right until democracy saw him off the presidency.
Yet the toxic political climate of the day cast its searing arrows into HH’s family life, Kela remembers.
Kela says he was willing to take the fight to the ropes along with the man he had grown to know as a creative political genius who had not only composed the lyrics of the national anthem, but conjured Swapo’s ubiquitous insignia, the famous ‘Mannetjie’.
“I think anyone who chooses a profession where you are in the spotlight, should be prepared for the good and the bad of it”.
Until this day, the Hamutenyas regard the RDP as HH’s democratic choice which never was a mistake.
It was a creature “which he, under the constitution of the Republic of Namibia, was allowed to make”.
But Kela’s underlining perspective is that until this day, most from within never saw it as such. The party today floats in the August House with one seat held by Mike Kavekotora who has sworn to revive the party, has disregarded negative stereotypes and so far has nailed a coalition ahead of the 2019 plebiscite.
But HH cut his teeth in the fabric of Swapo.
Within a short time, he traced his roots back into its ranks and file before he peacefully passed on with his remains interred at the Heroes Acre.
Why did HH return?
“It should not be forgotten that the democratic arena should be a place for everybody to be able to express themselves on issues that affects us,” Kela philosophises with a political erudition befitting a man spawned by a tactical propagandist.
We could not finish the interview after he had cleared the air one of the most frequently asked questions, did HH solely pen Namibia’s sacrosanct anthem?
But once again, that presents the young another opportunity to flaunt some of his finely worded maxims.
“You have to understand that a national anthem is not a musical peace, it’s a piece of politics, it’s a political message.
So rhythm and sound, yes, that’s a musician’s job ( in this case that of Axali Doëseb) and the content of the words have to be done by an academic.
So it’s not really a hard thing to understand,” he breaks into a smile.
Time was already inching towards 12h00 and it would be amiss to stretch a man’s conversation beyond the limits of convenience, especially on a busy Tuesday.
We bid each other good bye, promising to revisit the topic at another time, another day.