Nanyemba finally home

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WINDHOEK – The remains of one of Namibia’s struggle stalwarts and formidable anti-apartheid fighter, Eneas Peter Nanyemba, arrived in Namibia on Friday along with the remains of four other combatants – Walde Homateni Kaluenja, Isak Shikongo, Natalia Ndahambelela Shikangala Mavulu and Augustus Nghaamwa.

Nanyemba was the Swapo secretary for defence in exile between 1970 and until at his death in 1983. He died when his car collided with a petrol tanker in Lubango, Angola. Prior to his appointment as defence secretary Nanyemba served as Swapo representative in Botswana in 1962 and representative in Tanzania from 1963 until his appointment as secretary for defence. 

However, the former president Dr Sam Nujoma said the five leaders whose remains have been repatriated are just some of the more than 500 000 Namibians who lost their lives during the struggle for Namibia’s independence. “Our brothers and sisters from Angola suffered a lot because of us – their infrastructure was damaged and some of them even lost their lives. During the struggle, I can say over 500 000 Namibians, including women and children, lost their lives,” said Nujoma when speaking to the Namibian and Angolan media after a sombre welcoming ceremony at Hosea Kutako International Airport on Friday morning.

Nujoma paid homage to Angola for housing Namibians during the armed struggle although it came at a great cost. “When the racist white minority apartheid regime bombed Luanda, many Angolan people and livestock were killed,” he said, thanking Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos and the entire MPLA leadership for agreeing to repatriate the remains of the late combatants who all died between 1977 and 1983 while on duty.

Nujoma said all those who lost their lives fighting for the independence of Namibia did not do so in vain, because the objective was eventually attained.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba also paid homage to the five PLAN members and said although they did not live to see the dawn of independence, they fought and died for freedom, democracy and the human dignity Namibians are enjoying today.

Pohamba said the government would work with the families of the late heroes to determine where their remains would be buried. “By shedding their precious blood for their motherland, they have demonstrated the highest measure of patriotism and selflessness,” said Pohamba.

Frieda Shikangala – the sister to the late Natalia Shikangala Mavulu – who was there to receive her sibling’s remains asked the younger generation to protect the sovereignty of the country or they would risk losing it again. “The future generations might lose this country if they do not take care of it. What more can we say, although our brothers and sisters have returned in this state, we can take solace from the fact that they did not die for nothing,” she said.

Shikangala also took a swipe at critics who always blame government for not catering for the needs of Namibians. “To those who say government is not working – those of us who suffered and know how things were before can only thank government for all it’s doing to build up the country,” she said.

By Mathias Haufiku