While the world’s attention has been drawn to land reform in Zimbabwe, there is increasing tension in Namibia over the legacy of German colonialism.
Despite repeated promises, the SWAPO-led government has failed to address the fact that much of the best land is owned by a few thousand German descendents.
But the crisis does not just involve access to agricultural land. It also exists in cities. Now a new youth movement is demanding action, or else.
It is a country that attracts few headlines these days, but Namibia used to be embroiled in the same kind of liberation struggle that we used to associate with South Africa or Zimbabwe. And as in those two states, in the generation since independence, the veterans and the youth are demanding that the injustices of the colonial period – most evident in land distribution – should be done away with.
The Namibian government’s policy, which is funded by Germany, has followed South Africa’s “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, to persuade German descendents to give up their farms, but a new generation says this is a betrayal.
The most radical of these is called Affirmative Repositioning (AR), which was started in late 2014 by academic and activist Job Amupanda, and seeks to improve the socio-economic conditions of youth who have no access to housing. However, they’ve taken their fight not to the rural environment, but the cities, where they say things have reached crisis point.