... By Attempt to 'Erase History' By Kuvee Kangueehi ONDANGWA - An attempt to snub Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma during the commissioning of the Northern Railway Extension Project backfired badly, forcing President Hifikepunye Pohamba to demand that his predecessor be given an opportunity to speak. A visibly angry Pohamba confronted Prime Minister Nahas Angula in public demanding to know why Nujoma was not on the programme. He was also upset because the ordinary people, who provided labour and support during the construction of the railway line, were cut off the main celebrations by way of a fence. The Head of State was in jovial mood until he reached the main table and realised that Nujoma did not feature anywhere on the new programme. Then everything changed as he demanded an explanation. The omission of the Founding president caused a public stir and embarrassment, with President Pohamba demanding to know why Nujoma was left out of the programme. King of Ondonga Immanuel Eliphas Kauluma who was seated at the high table between the president and Prime Minister Angula must have been wondering what was going on as the two men engaged in a not-so-happy conversation. The premier unsuccessfully tried to explain that he did not know why Nujoma was not on the programme and simply replied, "ask your neighbour", in an apparent reference to the Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Joel Kaapanda who was seated next to Pohamba. The Head of State told Angula that he should ensure that Nujoma was given an opportunity to speak. The incident almost spoiled the occasion, which started off in celebratory mood with wine and the cutting of a cake. Midway through the programme, Angula was squeezed onto the programme and briefly spoke about the history of the Ondangwa Railway Station, which was clearly to put Nujoma back onto the programme. Towards the end of his speech, Angula asked Nujoma to come and address his fellow workers who have worked with him on the railway project. The former Head of State was visibly not in a jovial mood and reluctantly moved towards the podium. As he was about to begin his speech, over 10 thousand people who came to witness the occasion started singing "Sama ulipeni" (Sam where are you). That suddenly changed everything and brought about some healing as the masses including the dignitaries started to sing and dance. As the Founding President punched his fist into the air, the faces of the thousands of people broke into smiles. The crowd was suddenly electrified by his charisma, the media jostling with the security personnel in the quest to capture the moment. The crowd applauded almost every single sentence he uttered. The dreamer or visionary, if you like, spoke on how the railway line was conceived. "I first discussed the railway project with President Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola in order to make the Walvis Bay a Corridor harbour." Nujoma added that Africa has achieved political independence and what is needed now is economic independence. This can only be achieved if there are means of communication. "We need to communicate and railway is one of the safest and cheapest ways." He challenged the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication to extend the railway to the Oshikango Border Post. "If we completed the 246 kilometres in such a short period, I am sure we can complete the 55 kilometres in six months." The Founding President, who was speaking without a prepared speech, further mapped out his "dream" of how he would want the entire Africa to be connected by rail. He called on the country to produce scientists such as geologists, engineers and doctors. Towards the end of his speech, Nujoma stated that Namibia has uranium and thus should also start producing atomic bombs. Taking the podium, Pohamba warned that there are individuals who are trying to erase history. He said the railway was the brainchild of Nujoma and it was wrong to try and deny him that. Pohamba also revealed that he demanded that Angula ensures Nujoma was on the programme. The incident on Saturday reminded people of the occasion of May 1, 2004, when members of the public snubbed former Minister of Trade Hidipo Hamutenya who was meant to address them at the railway site. Some of the guests said it was an attempt by people who organized the meeting in 2004 to take revenge on Nujoma.
2006-07-17 00:00:00 12 years ago