Windhoek – The sacrifices of fallen and living liberation heroes should inspire Southern Africans to develop the region for the sake of future generations, a senior Namibian government official has said.
In a statement on the occasion of SADC Liberation Day, observed annually on March 23, Dr Jerobeam Shaanika – Acting Head of the Department of Multilateral Relations and Co-operation in Namibia’s Ministry of International Relations and Co-operation – underscored the role played by liberation war heroes.
“Namibia stands together with all SADC citizens against phenomena and chains that threaten our common humanity and want to bind us; including tribalism, racism, human trafficking, radicalisation, domestic violence, poverty, and non-communicable and communicable diseases.
“The memory and legacy of those who sacrificed their lives to liberate our region must continue to inspire us to serve the noble cause of our community for generations to come. This sacrifice should empower us to forge ahead with the economic integration of the SADC region to ensure that our regional resources benefit all the people,” he said.
SADC Heads of State and Government adopted March 23 as SADC Liberation Day at their 38th Summit in Windhoek, Namibia in 2018.
The date was settled on as it marked the day in 1988 that a coalition of Angolan, Namibian and Cuban forces defeated the South African apartheid military machine at the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. That victory marked the beginning of the end for apartheid, with Namibia gaining Independence just two years later and South Africa welcoming democracy in 1994.
Dr Shaanika said, “In celebration of this day, we pay homage to the youth and elders, men and women who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the region, as well as the solidarity that continues to exist among SADC member states. Those who made supreme sacrifices did so for us to enjoy our freedom to the fullest.
“As we enjoy this unlimited freedom today, we must know how it came about and what life was like before the dawn of freedom. Southern Africa lived under the shadow of apartheid which was unleashing its force of destruction across the borders in the neighbouring countries.”
He went on: “From 14 August 1987 until 23 March 1988, Cuito Cuanavale, in Angola, was the battleground between Angolan, Cuban forces, and the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) combatants against the apartheid South African forces and União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA) rebels.”
Dr Shaanika also hailed the Frontline States and Nigeria for their solidarity and material support in the decolonisation agenda.
The Frontline States coalition was to lay the foundation for the establishment of the Southern Africa Development Co-ordination Conference in 1980, which became the Southern Africa Development Community in 1992.