Subdued celebrations for Southern Africa’s Liberation Day

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Timo Shihepo

Windhoek - Southern Africa commemorated its second Liberation Day ever since the Heads of State and Government agreed in 2018 to mark the 23rd March as a day when Southern Africa celebrates the region being free from colonialism.

Although freedom is ranked highly in the region, the day didn’t garner so much interests with only a few heads of state having mentioned it.

Southern Africa’s first ever liberation day was celebrated in 2019 but despite it also not having generated much interest, there was at least an event to mark the occasion in Cuito Cuanavale, Angola, unlike this year.  

This year’s low-key celebrations could be blamed on the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak although there were no indications that plans were underway to host a proper commemoration day.

Namibia’s President Hage Geingob tweeted on 23 March: “Today, the citizens of our region are commemorating Southern African Liberation Day. However, we are marking the day in the face of the unprecedented Covid-19 global pandemic. Namibia stands ready to contribute to all regional efforts that aim to combat the scourge of Covid-19.”

SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax said this year’s commemoration of the Southern Africa Liberation Day was coming at a time the world was grappling with Covid-19, which has been declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a global pandemic and public health emergency.

Nevertheless, in a statement, Dr Tax said as the region celebrated this day, tribute should be paid to the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the region, as well as the spirit of togetherness that existed among member states.

When the Frontline States came together in 1974, their aim was to achieve political liberation in the Southern African region, and their efforts resulted in the attainment of majority rule and independence in Angola and Mozambique (in 1975), Zimbabwe (1980), Namibia (1990), and South Africa (1994).

Dr Tax said without the commitment and selflessness of the men and women who sacrificed their lives, the political liberation of the region would never have been achieved.

“We owe a great deal to our founders, we might have lost the majority of them, unfortunately, but their legacy lives on, may their souls rest in eternal peace. We express our gratitude to the international community for their support to our struggle for freedom. This year’s liberation day comes a few days before the 40th Anniversary of SADC, which offers us a unique opportunity to reflect on the journey we have travelled together as a regional community,” she said.

She added that the freedom enjoyed across the region today was one of the many achievements citizens could all be proud of as a region.

“We must endeavour to ensure that our unique liberation history is not forgotten. To achieve this, it is important for our member states to, among others, incorporate the Southern African liberation history into the school curriculum so that our youths and the future generations appreciate the sacrifices of that generation of young men and women who liberated us.

“While we celebrate our liberation, we must collectively work to transform our economies and liberate our people from the bondage of poverty. We must all commit to our shared vision of a common future that will ensure economic well-being, improvement of the standard of living and quality of life, freedom and social justice and peace and security of our people. Let’s all do our best to ensure that our hard-earned freedom is sustained for posterity.”

 

 

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