• November 15th, 2018
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Fare thee well hospital matron-cum-freedom fighter!

Columns, Comment
Columns, Comment

Dr Peya Mushelenga, MP The late Rosalia Nghidinwa (26/10/1952 - 15/01/2018) When it is said that health and medical personnel played a vital role in contributing to the cause of Namibia’s independence, the Honourable Rosalia Nghidinua stands out as one of the distinguished, outstanding and accomplished freedom fighters of Namibia’s internal liberation struggle front. Born in a peasant family of Tate Fanuel Shekupakela and Nane Josefina Nghilundilwa at Nkurenkuru, Kavango West Region, Rosalia Annette Ndilinasho Nghidinwa went on to outgrow a girl from a humble family background to become a sophisticated daughter of the soil. Popularly known as ‘Suster Rosa’, an Afrikaans title for nurses, she headed the Lutheran Church Medical Services in the then Okavango – today’s Kavango West and East Region. In this position, she worked closely with Matron Ndamono Shanghala who was heading government’s medical services in the then Owambo (today’s Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto Regions) in providing medical supplies to guerrilla fighters of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), SWAPO’s military wing. Suster Rosa undertook risks and faced daring situations. At one time when a wounded PLAN fighter needed further treatment in Rundu, she accompanied him, dressing him in women clothes. Alas! There was a roadblock between Nkurenkuru and Rundu. Suster Rosa did not panic. She coached the PLAN fighter to act like a woman in labour. They passed through unnoticed. On another occasion, following a fiery battle between PLAN fighters and omakakunya, one day, the latter brought to the Nkurenkuru hospital their unconscious wounded colleagues and one PLAN fighter. Suster Rosa knew the PLAN fighter and upon recognising him she immediately attended to him and hid him in the medicine cupboard, while preparing his escape route. When omakakunya returned the next day, they took their recovering patients and left without noticing any anomaly. A few minutes later they returned to the hospital for a missing patient. Typical of Suster Rosa who had a way of disarming her opponents, outmanoeuvring and putting them in an awkward position, she insisted that those were the only soldiers that were brought to hospital the previous day. She started castigating omakakunya for not knowing elementary mathematics, and lecturing them on the importance of mathematics which would have helped them avoiding inaccurate calculations of the wounded soldier brought to the hospital. They went back, leaving trees dancing and birds rolling on the ground with laughter. Whenever the Captain from the Nkurenkuru base came to probe her about PLAN fighters who were seen around the hospital, Suster Rosa would demand evidence and start admonishing the captain for wasting government money paying informers for fake news. She would then start lecturing the captain about prudent management of financial resources. Suster Rosa’s contribution to the cause of independence made her a target of the South African Defence Force (SADF) and South West Africa Territory Force (SWATF), including the notorious Koevoet – commonly referred to as omakakunya. Having studied criminology as part of her Matric curriculum, Suster Rosa’s liberation struggle activities were carried out through calculated moves, beating the colonial authorities at their own game. For example, she would take medical supplies to carefully selected sites and signal to PLAN fighters where to collect them later. In return she would challenge omakakunya to arrest her should they catch her red-handed providing medical supplies to PLAN fighters. Suster Rosa ducked the pouncing of colonial authorities and dived with death on several occasions. At one time she was tipped off about the imminent murder of herself and Jako Kangayi, one particular evening. She went to take cover at the hospital. Indeed after midnight unwelcome visitors – omakakunya – arrived at her house after midnight. Frustrated at their failed mission, they resorted to killing the dog in the house. Shame! From there they moved on to deal with Jako. Jako escaped their wrath, when he hid himself between his parents. At another time a collaborator came in her house disguised as a patient having connived with his handlers who came knocking in the evening. Given her distinguished role in the liberation for her motherland, President Nujoma did the inevitable. He appointed her to the deserved position of Deputy Minister of Labour in March 2000. The rest is history. Following her appointment, her erstwhile enemies started crying foul, saying “Sy het altyd gesê dat sy nie SWAPO ken nie. Kyk nou!”. They said “She has always said that she does not know SWAPO. Look now!”. Poor omakakunya! So what? Crying over spilt milk doesn’t bring the milk back. As a person, Suster Rosa was a generous individual, who helped out a lot people who were in need. She hosted a number of people, strangers and acquaintances alike in her Nkurenkuru house and they were all treated equally well. When our mothers shared a room some years ago in Windhoek Central Hospital, Honourable Nghidinwa attended to both her mother and my mother indiscriminately, in true camaraderie and the biblical Good Samaritan’s spirit. Suster Rosa was a devoted Christian, who served in the Eastern Diocese Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) and remained as such till her death. She inherited Christian values from her parents – her father having been a lay preacher in the Lutheran church. May her soul rest in Eternal Peace!
New Era Reporter
2018-01-19 09:43:26 9 months ago

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