• September 20th, 2019

Bridges to Uphold: The Legacy of Neville Cupido


He featured in the breed of medics who served as the bridge that brought us over the river of turmoil during the struggle for justice and they became the cradle for our cause: Neville Cupido, Thomas Ihuhua, Hala Hochobeb, Gerson Gonteb, Solomon Amadhila, Philemon Amaambo, Zandile Erkana, Nestor Shivute, Kenneth Abraham, Franz Stellemacher, Theopolina Tueumuna, Naftali Hamata, August !Goagoseb, David Uirab, Kiat Beukes, Pele Damaseb, Fleming Aspara; Kanisia Nakangombe. The list is too long to mention in its entirety.

Aghostino Neto, the Angolan Poet/President, was impelled by the conditions of the Angolan political struggle. He wrote a book of poems titled ‘Sacred Hope.’ In it features a poem named ‘No one can stop the rain’ and it reads: “Here in prison, rage contained in my breast. I solemnly wait for the clouds to gather, blown by the wind of history: No one can stop the Rain.” We learned through the experience of these stalwarts that, in as much as the wind of history can temper with the rage in their breasts, no one could stop the rain of thunderous aspirations of a people born free but constrained by oppression. Our medics of that era were neither intimidated by the Apartheid Regime’s tribal configuration, nor impressed by benefits of racial mobility that accrued to individuals who embraces the regime’s dictates through the color divide. 

The Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) opened a People’s Clinic in Otjimbingwe because of deteriorating health conditions and we roped in some of our Doctors, Thomas Ihuhua and Gerson Gonteb, as well as nurses, Sister Butkus and Rosa Namises. Neville served as referral physician and the surgery of Thomas Ihuhua and Neville Cupido in Katutura served as referral hospital for the Otjimbingwe People’s Clinic in Windhoek.

Whenever there was a SWAPO rally in Katutura, all medics from the community were on call. The “Ihuhua Spreek Kamer” as it was affectionately popular in the circles of the liberation struggle, was the established referral center for the fact that it was centrally located. Ihuhua was a weekend farmer and most weekends he would be out of town. 

Ihuhua and I had vainly tried to persuade Neville to develop interest in farming. Neville was committed on standby at this community hospital, while other doctors and nurses would be on guard to see what happens. We had nurses, Anakie Tobias, Mrs. Ausiku (wife of the current Deputy Secretary General of the SWAPO Party), radiologist Nashilongo Elago and others, who would don their regular uniforms and go to Katutura hospital from where they would monitor the situation at the public rally. 

Neville was deeply connected to the Katutura community and he loved his people. He hardly ever missed a SWAPO Braai, especially when it was held at the residence of Comrade Kabinet Ikela in Donker Hoek, and even though he consumed no alcohol, he would sit up to the wee hours of the morning. Neville had time. He would rock up at my house at seven pm after work and we would sit and engage in conversation until very late. I would at times, fall asleep in the middle of the discussion. He would stumble to the kitchen for coffee and he would say in his soft-spoken fashion: “Hier is koffie, moenie slaap nie man”. (Here is coffee, stop sleeping man).

A few years ago, we had gathered at a church in Narraville, Walvisbaai, to pay our last respects to the unique personality of Barney Barnes, one of the drafters of Namibia’s constitution. The congregation started to sing a hymn and it went as follows, “And when the storms of life descend on you and it seems that you are about to be enmeshed, count your blessings, name them one by one.” Indeed, we must count our blessings. Neville was committed to the struggle and even though he was reluctant to take a political leadership assignment, he never stood back in the face of a political challenge, no matter how dangerous. He was one of the medical practitioners who contributed medical supplies to the liberation fighters and would quietly see the wounded at a house in Katutura or clandestinely at the surgery at no charge, under the cover of darkness. All these he did with full knowledge of the dangerous implications.   Neville leaves behind his wife Bella and their five boys who were groomed to become refined young men and stand-alone professionals. Each time I pass the family house I remember the years of upheaval and sometimes I would walk in and invite myself to the lunch table, with Bella running a school of grandchildren. Gone are those days when friends would just walk in and start a conversation with no issues, and such a conversation would rage for hours, talking about all things but nothing negative about anyone. 


New Era Reporter
2019-03-06 10:31:21 6 months ago

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