WINDHOEK - Former liberation fighters and friends of late retired Major General Peter Nambundunga paid their tributes to a man who helped shape their paths in life.
Nambundunga is described as a man of empathy, innovation, brevity, discipline, decisiveness and an intellectual too.
His lifelong friend, retired Brigadier General James Auala paid tribute to a man who was steadfast in his conviction for Namibia to gain independence - even if it cost him his job.
Auala told New Era that Nambundunga was expelled from his job at the then South African Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC) in the late 1960 after he was found to have been distributing leaflets promoting Swapo and the liberation struggle.
He did this while knowing that such acts would cost him his job, if not his life.
Nambundunga’s work for the liberation of Namibia started long before he actively joined the struggle and went to the war front.
He was always involved in the underground Swapo mobilisation activities from the late 1960s.
Muetulamba Shingenge, who is a long serving member of the Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC) executive, remembers Nambundunga joining Swapo in 1970.
“I was a student at Ongwediva and he was in Oshakati. He registered me but could not provide me with a card at the time since the cards were out of stock,” she said. She added that Nambundunga was one of the first people she confided in about her desire to skip the country and join the struggle.
“He cautioned that if I wanted to go, I should not attract attention by packing a suitcase,” she said, pausing with a nostalgic look on her face. Shingenge continued that when she finally decided to make the move, she turned to Nambundunga who housed her a day before her journey and escorted her to the Namibian-Angolan border near Oshikango during the early 1970s.
Nambundunga then helped her cross the border and gave her directions and names of contacts at Ondjiva in southern Angola.
The said contact was David Shimwino, who later became Swapo’s representative to Zambia.
Shimwino confirmed to New Era that he worked with Nambundunga to facilitate a pathway for would-be liberation fighters who left Namibia. Shimwino said the aim of the pathway was to ensure that Namibians looking to join the liberation struggle were not mislead, misdirected or abducted.
But more importantly to Shimwino was the role Nambundunga played in his life. He said that before creating the pathway, Nambundunga found him his first job in Windhoek during the late 1960s and early 70s.
“He found me a job at the Windhoek Country Club, before I joined the struggle,” Shimwino, now a businessman, said.
Nambundunga later facilitated Shimwino’s departure into exile to join the struggle and he ensured that Shimwino was also equipped with the relevant information and documentation, including a Swapo membership card. After receiving his military training, Shimwino was later sent back to Ondjiva to set up the pathway with the help of Nambundunga.
Shimwino in return was to later facilitate Nambundunga and his wife’s safe travel into Angola.
Auala said his travels into Angola with a few others wanting to join the liberation struggle was facilitated by Nambundunga who at the time was employed to teach traditional leaders in northern Namibia how to read and write.
He also assisted the late Sam Shivute with the running of the Swapo office at Oshakati. Auala could not tell whether the assistance was in an official capacity or on a voluntary basis.
Auala attempts to piece together his friend’s journey but gives a disclaimer that some dates and sequences need to be verified.
After getting married in 1974, Nambundunga crossed into Angola, then went through the then Zaire (now DRC) into Zambia. He was later moved to Kongwa camp in Tanzania. Although he went to Kongwa as a trainee, he was quickly made a chief instructor.
Later he was assigned to Angola and joined Plan’s north-western front. He received further training in the Soviet Union and also did political studies in Cuba. In 1981, the two men now trained soldiers, reunited in Angola.
At this point, Nambundunga was also promoted from being a political commissar to being Plan’s head of logistics. At the same time he was also promoted to serve on the all-powerful Millitary Council, which was Plan’s highest decision making body, a position he held until independence.
After independence, Nambundunga took charge of the logistics department in the Ministry of Defence until 1995 when he was promoted to NDF Chief of Staff. He later became Deputy Army Commander, then Army Commander and then acting Chief of Defence Force (CDF) before retiring from active service.
Auala yesterday said their paths crossed around 1963 at Tsandi in the Omusati Region. Nambundunga, who hails from Onesi, had to attend school in Uukwaluudhi since schools at Onesi only had lower primary grades at the time.
They were both housed by Bishop Cleophas Dumeni, who was then the reverend in charge of the Tsandi parish. A friendship was then forged, which resulted in the two men embarking on a life’s journey together.
Auala however points out that since Nambundunga was a year older, this meant that the former was always following in the latter’s footsteps. Auala explained that when Nambundunga left Tsandi, he went to the boys’ boarding school at Onakayale near Outapi and Auala joined him the following year.
The same applied when Nambundunga moved on to Oshigambo High School in 1966 and Auala also attended the same school a year later. Auala said after completing his Form 3 at Oshigambo, Nambundunga left formal school to find a job.
He remembers that Nambundunga also did a short teaching stint at Mandume Primary School in Windhoek, but they were reunited in 1969 when they applied for jobs at SWABC’s Oshiwambo radio service.
They both got the jobs, Nambundunga receiving a clerical post while Auala was a radio announcer. Auala later opted to go back to school and put his job on hold, while Nambundunga’s political activities got him the boot from the radio station.
Auala describes Nambundunga as a political activist who was always involved in Swapo mobilisation activities, especially at their youth level during the 60s.
New Era Reporter
2019-01-18 09:56:32 30 days ago