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In this chapter, the previously introduced concepts of FEAR and Help187 will be reflected upon in more detail. By further developing these central theoretical constructs of FEAR and HELP, the corollary of a notion of over-empowerment challenges prevalent « empowerment » strategies by development agents who often rush its implementation and underestimate counter-productive side-effects.
Keeping in mind that the Ju/’hoansihave been subjected to research and development programmes for decades188, it must be cautioned against conserving the old stereotype of the « powerless Bushman » by calling for a critical self-reflexion of development approaches and its immediate necessity.



During the Take-Over Phase of the Village Schools Project it was decided to facilitate a complete take-over by the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEG) during the first quarter of 1996, and to transfer responsibilities away from the NNDFN/NNFC as soon as possible. This was mainly due to an acute management crisis in the NNDFN during 187 Cf section It must be borne in mind that Capital letters are used here to distinguish the theoretical constructs of FEAR and HELP from the corresponding common English words fear and help. It might well be said that FEAR creates fear, and HELP is based on a helping process, but the theoretical constructs FEAR and HELP go much further.
I like to work according to my conscience and conviction and according to my philosophy only a diversified development programme and the prevention of hand outs can lead to sustainability and self-sufficiency of the communities. This concept was accepted by the entire Board in 1992. John Marshall, a life board member, disputes it [ … ). I am unwilling to work under these conditions. [ … ) We differ in our methods of information and consultation. The Ju/’hoancommunities are currently profoundly confused and do not vocalize which programme they prefer. I have no wish to add to their confusion and therefore did not participate in the field discussions that were apparently held during the past three weeks. [ … ) I sincerely hope the board members accept my resignation as a constructive measure to this detrimental state of affairs.189
Less than half a year later, the Village Schools Project stated in a thoroughly discussed position paper190 that The situation of the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation (NNDFN) appears to be rather unclear at the moment, with a lack of clear management and/or leadership structures. Even more so, the Nyae Nyae Farmer’s Co-operative (NNFC) as its counterpart organisation seems to be so involved in its own restructuring and redefinition, that it is no longer feasible to consider the NNFC a responsible and capable partner in the execution of the Village Schools Project’s (VSP) programme.191 Considering recent developments, the Education Team does not consider the NNFC to be in touch with the current reality any more, and seriously doubts the sustainability of the entire NNDFN/NNFC Rural Development Project. Nevertheless, it should be stressed that both the NNFC and the VSP used to subscribe to the same fundamental concepts at the outset of the Project, i.e. before the « grassroots organization » underwent a severe change of philosophy that led to the present crisis situation.192
The Village Schools Project concluded:
[ … ] it is unrealistic to count on efficient support from the present NNFC. The time has come where one has to critically and self-critically re-evaluate proposals and achievements in the light of the ailing NNDFN/NNFC and its weakening infrastructure, which made it impossible for the VSP to carry on as originally planned. The interests of the people of Nyae Nyae still have priority, and one has to ensure that the Village Schools can continue independent from the NNDFN/NNFC’s increasing internal problems. It might be sad to realize that the NNFC is not in a position any more to assume responsibility, but in ignoring such a fact one would only be guilty of misleading the donors of the VSP. 193
The situation that led to the decision to expedite the transfer to the Ministry of Education will be the subject of this case study, as it pinpoints central elements of over-empowerment through FEAR.
Apart from general observations during his field work in Nyae Nyae, the VISCO will especially refer to his personal observations during the Institutional Development Workshop (IDW) held in Baraka from 17 January to 21 January 1995. Main emphasis will be laid on its directly related documents, as these documents imply a general tendency of uncritical acceptance of NNFC’sviewpoints with the provision of nearly unlimited over-empowerment194.
For a proper analysis of the present situation, a number of documents have been taken into account in order to assess the predicament objectively.195 Primary concern is given to the current NNFC attitude of demanding one-sided provision with goods and/or services which is being condoned and even encouraged by the Consultant for Institutional Development (CID). Such an approach is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of self-help and self-reliance applied by the VSP, and earlier by the NNFC as well.
The following critiques of both the IDW and the Proposal « Communities Managing Natural Resources in Nyae Nyae. Community Ranger and Agriculture Programmes »
(CRAP) are undertaken from an educational point of view, and will show the fundamental differences in methodology and developmental philosophy that put the existence of the VSP within the NNFC/NNDFN in difficulty. The critiques also intend to provide a counterpoise to prevalent viewpoints, and want to show why the VSP will not be able to co-exist within a framework of over-empowerment, narvety, NNFC arbitrariness and an overall lack of vision.


The very brief report on the IDW concluded:
The three day workshop was extremely successful. The community clearly identified the issues currently at hand and had a very clear vision of how they wanted their community to look in the given. Grootfontein: 06 January 1995.
NYAE NYAE Farmers’Co-operative; NYAE NYAE Development Foundation of Namibia: Memorandum of understanding between the Nyae Nyae Farmers Co-operative and the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia concerning management and implementation of the project: Communities Managing Natural Resources in Nyae Nyae, A Community Ranger and Agriculture Programme. No date given.
future. As a consequence of the workshop there is a clearly defined development path for the community to travel and should ensure that all future activities and decisions will enhance the long term goals of the community.196
This conclusion is simply deceiving and completely unfounded. It gives the impression that the people of Nyae Nyae or its representatives have internalized the concept of a community working together, and that they have understood the even more abstract notions of development, decision-making and long-term planning.
From a methodological point of view, the workshop has failed to challenge existing mindsets by just accepting the subjective definitions of the target group. However, such an acceptance generates a collective objectivity which in turn distorts and re-defines reality; by subscribing to the « new reality »197 which has lost its contextual relevance, the whole project will work in a narve vacuum that will never be able to face real-life challenges after the withdrawal of the development worker. Even worse, due to the collective acceptance of the « new reality » responsibilities are being forced onto the people which they in turn are not yet able to execute.
The results of forced empowerment become obvious in the « Tasks of the Committee of Management » which are completely unacceptable to the VSP:

  • Monitor and manage all projects under the umbrella of the NNFC. [ … ]
  • Overall responsibility for the performance of both Jo!haon [sic] and Non-Jo!haon [sic] staff. [ … ]
  • Monitoring the performance of the support services in Windhoek and providing direction for the staff. [ … ]1 98
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With regard to the allocation of certain tasks to individual committee members, it is then recommended that, inter alia, Kxao is to « monitor and evaluate the performance of Non-Jo!haon [sic] staff »199 and /’Angn!aois to « oversee the Health and Education activities »200 • Such a non-participatory approach with regard to the non-Ju/’hoanstaff creates power imbalances that defeat fruitful teamwork as a whole.
It appears to be obvious that neither Kxao nor /’Angn!aoare in any way qualified to take on such responsibilities. On the contrary, they become over-empowered to such a stage where they can actually give directives and orders to their NNDFN advisers who in turn become superfluous. This, however, discredits the development project as a whole and displays an aimless laisser-faire approach which ultimately will completely destroy the Ju/’hoansi’sself-worth and self-respect.201
As could be expected from the FEAR-theory, merely antagonistic behaviour is displayed when it comes to the NNFC’ssubjective evaluation of educational reality in Nyae Nyae: « The committee expressed concerns about the project particularly the lack of information currently being recieved [sic] by the NNFC. »202 It must be stressed that no project in Nyae Nyae has ever been so widely communicated to the people involved203 as it was done by the VSP, and that the VSP always distributed its proposals and reports to the NNFC management committee.
If the NNFC would take full responsibility for the VSP at this stage, the consequences could only be described as disastrous. It was also symptomatic, that the only other comment made by the NNFC with regard to education merely referred to the annexation of the second education vehicle, and that not one single statement was made in connection with the work done in the Village Schools.
Instead of blindly subscribing to the NNFC’ssubjective reality, the Village Schools Project would facilitate a process where the communities can analyze their problems, thus becoming aware of them. With such an approach, the target group would likewise be liberated from patterns of authoritarianism and would be encouraged to participate directly in a process of self-reflexion. This process and methodological approach is defined as HELP
Generally, the workshop methodology lacked any intervention strategy whatsoever and as such failed from a pedagogical point of view. Demands were just taken at face value, no matter how irrelevant they were204 , and no attempts were made to challenge any statements made by the NNFC representatives.
It also omitted to address acute social problem situations in Baraka, such as stealing and various break-ins into staff houses, the communal kitchen and the Baraka Shop205 • These incidents reflect a deteriorating group cohesion and as such the breakdown of previously accepted norms and values with regard to a « co-operative » philosophy. The complete loss of respect for both private and communal property will not be conducive to a trustful working relationship within an Integrated Rural Development Project where everybody involved has to know that s/he can rely on his/her co-workers.
Another reason for concern is the introduction of segregating symbols of power (uniforms for the « Community Rangers ») which will enforce the FEAR-syndrome even more, and about the ever-increasing excessive bureaucracy: « There was general agreement to increase the size of the C’tee[sic] to 12 members to incorporate district representatives. »206 Neither of these developments is compatible with the community-based approach of the VSP, let alone the fact that the continuous creation of « jobs » (that require regular travelling from the villages to Baraka and vice versa) will not be sustainable. It likewise creates hierarchical structures207 which are not appropriate for an egalitarian society who had been subjected to the ill-effects of power and domination already by the South African army. The Education Team is extremely alarmed by the current recurrence of structures and symbols related to a time of constant abuse of power which led to oppression and disempowerment in the first place.

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