Windhoek - Namibian President and current Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Hage Geingob, has described the country’s Founding President, Dr Sam Nujoma, as a visionary and courageous leader.
In his congratulatory message on Nujoma’s 90th birthday last week, Geingob said the Founding Father of the nation was a freedom fighter and courageous commander of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), the armed wing of Swapo Party which spearheaded the fight for the country’s independence.
“The life on earth of our Founding President and Father of the Nation, Comrade Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma has been devoted to serving with utmost fidelity the people of our land,” said Geingob.
He said Dr Nujoma took up the fight and the struggle against the illegal occupation of Namibia by the apartheid South Africa regime at a very young age.
According to the Namibian President, the journey of struggle and the path of justice for the oppressed majority forced Nujoma into exile to wage under Swapo, the long and bitter war for the liberation of Namibia.
“A visionary leader of Swapo, freedom fighter and courageous Commander of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), Comrade Nujoma led Namibians to a decisive victory in 1990. Our independence and the birth of a new nation, for which Namibians owe Comrade Nujoma an immeasurable debt of gratitude, bears the imprint of his heroic deeds and a life of commitment to the liberty and the unity of the Namibian people,” Geingob added.
He said after Namibia’s independence, the Founding Father began another difficult journey for socio-economic justice in a democratic, united and independent nation.
As highlighted by Geingob, Nujoma’s legendary leadership has resulted in Namibians living a better live. Nujoma has laid a foundation that ensures that the people of Namibia are treated with respect and have equal opportunities.
“The journey of prosperity and inclusive growth as part of our second struggle for economic emancipation remains incomplete. However, as Namibians, we are conscious that whenever Comrade Nujoma undertook a mission, he pursued it with steely determination. It is why we are immensely and eternally grateful for the solid foundations Comrade Nujoma has laid in an independent Namibia for our people to pursue a life of dignity and equality of opportunity,” the President said.
He said that the presence of Nujoma remains an abundant source of strength and inspiration.
“As we recount his rich legacy, admirable journey of victory over tyranny and celebrate this auspicious day, 12th of May 2019, the 90th Birthday of an outstanding son, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Namibia and her people, I would like to wish our beloved Founding Father a happy 90th birthday. Many happy returns Cde Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma,” said Geingob.
Nujoma’s 90th belated birthday commemorations will be held on May 17 at his farm in Etunda, Omusati region, followed by festivities on 18 May at his home village.
The Namibian Founding Father is a revolutionary, anti-apartheid activist who served three terms as the first President of Namibia at the attainment of independence in 1990.
Nujoma was born on 12 May 1929. He received his primary education from the Okahao Finnish Mission School from 1937 to 1945.
In 1946 he moved to the coastal town of Walvis Bay, where he got exposed to modern world politics by meeting soldiers who had been brought there during World War II. At the beginning of 1949, Nujoma went to live in Windhoek where he started working for the South African Railways.
On 6 May 1956, he got married to Kovambo Theopoldine Katjimune. With a deep passion for politics and yearning to see his people free from the restricted pass law system and confined according to ethnic groupings, Nujoma resigned from the South African Railways in 1957 at the age of 29. He did so with the purpose of devoting his time to politics.
In 1959, he was elected Leader of the Owambo People's Organisation (OPO) which was aimed at ending the then contract system and ending the South African colonial administration by placing South West Africa (SWA) under the UN Trusteeship system.
Nujoma petitioned the UN in the late fifties, demanding that the then South West Africa be placed under the UN Trusteeship system. In April 1960, he attended the All African People's Conference organised by President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana against the French Atom Bomb test in the Sahara Desert.
After Ghana, Nujoma went to Liberia and finally reached the USA in June 1960 and petitioned before the UN Fourth Committee of the General Assembly demanding the end of the South African colonial administration of the then SWA.
Meanwhile, the South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo) was formed on 19 April 1960 and Nujoma was elected as the President of the movement in absentia. In March 1966, he returned to Namibia from exile but was arrested and deported to Zambia.
Nujoma organised the first armed struggle on 26 August 1966. Since Namibia's independence in March 1990, this event has been commemorated annually as part of Heroes' Day. From 1977 to 1978, Nujoma led the Swapo negotiations team between the Western Five Contact group and South Africa on the one hand, and the Frontline States, Nigeria, and Swapo on the other, which culminated in the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 435 (1978). Thereafter on 19 March 1989, the signing of the cease-fire agreement with South Africa took place, which resulted in the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 435. In Namibia's first democratic elections for a Constituent Assembly, Swapo gained a majority and Nujoma was sworn in as the First President of the Republic of Namibia and Commander-in-Chief of the Namibian Defence Force.
He was re-elected for two more terms of office in 1994 and 1999 respectively, in recognition of his wise and dynamic leadership. Through his leadership, Swapo adopted the Policy of National Reconciliation under the motto: One Namibia, One Nation. He successfully united all Namibians into a peaceful, tolerant and democratic society governed by the rule of law.
In recognition of his dedication to his selfless sacrifice to the national liberation struggle and nation building, the Parliament of the Republic of Namibia enacted legislation in April 2005, declaring him the Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation.
He stepped down on 21 March 2005 to enable his successor, Hifikepunye Pohamba, to take over the reins. He served as the leader of the Swapo Party for 47 years and handed over the power to Pohamba in 2007.
Nujoma was awarded honours and awards for his outstanding leadership, courage and total commitment towards the creation of a non-racial society in Namibia.