Fellow Namibian Compatriots,
Veterans of the Liberation Struggle,
On this day, 54 years ago, Namibians crossed the point of no return in the fight against colonial occupation. On this day, August 26, 1966, our freedom fighters launched their first armed attack on a South African military contingent at Omugulu-Gwombashe. On this day, Namibians decided to become their own liberators.
Today, as we mark the commemoration of Heroes Day, we reflect on those distinguished patriots, whose bravery, foresight, fortitude and love of country has left an indelible mark on the legacy of Namibia. It is therefore my honour to join all Namibians, across the length and breadth of this country, to share in the pride of commemorating these exemplary men and women, whose deeds embody the ethos of heroism.
The Republic of Namibia is underpinned by the pillars of Unity, Liberty and Justice. And these pillars are rooted in the foundation of freedom through struggle and sacrifice of our sons and daughters. Their struggle and sacrifice has delivered freedom, dignity and national identity for the Namibian people.
This year, we have experienced the deep sense of loss, as we bade farewell to several heroes. In memory of these outstanding sons and daughters of Namibia, I ask that we take a minute’s silence in their memory.
As we observe Heroes Day and commemorate the fallen, we do so as one people united in destiny and purpose. Heroes Day is an important national event which belongs to all Namibians. It is an event that must be embraced by all because we need to understand that those who died for our freedom, did so out of patriotism: for love of their country and not their region, village, tribe, ethnicity or race. Therefore, Heroes Day and the memory of our fallen sons and daughters must be celebrated by all Namibians.
The ancient Greeks, from whom we derive the word hero, defined a hero as a mortal who had done something so far beyond the normal scope of human experience that he/she left an immortal memory behind when he/she died. Indeed, throughout history, this nation has been blessed with countless men and women, whose lives transcended the normal scope of human experience, who have left behind immortal memories that will continue to reverberate for eternity.
As a free and liberated people, we should never take our nationhood, peace and unity for granted. This nation’s history, origin and culture are rooted in the exploits, achievements and struggle of our freedom fighters. Therefore, we must continue to celebrate and preserve the knowledge of their struggle and ultimate triumph.
I am aware that 30 years after the independence of this great nation, there are many Namibians who were “born free”, thanks to the sacrifices of their forbearers.
These “born frees”, may not fully understand the significance of Heroes Day. For them, life in the present day independent Namibia, only started the day they were born. Their eyes were spared witnessing the atrocities of brutal occupation and the inhumane existence under Apartheid conditions, from which the Namibian masses have emerged. For this reason, their souls have not been marred by the ravages of displacement and war. Therefore, it is very difficult for a generation that has never experienced colonisation, racial abuse, state sanctioned murder and the denial of basic human rights, to understand, appreciate and accept the progress we have made as free people. That is not the fault of our youth as it is our obligation to teach them the true history, in our homes, schools and public forums.
To them I say, we commemorate our heroes not only because they helped bring us the gift of freedom but because our heroes help motivate us to make the impossible possible and to turn dreams into realities. Their deeds help drive current and future generations to aspire to overcome the fear of failure in order to pursue success. Our heroes are exemplars of all the qualities we would like to possess and all the ambitions we would like to satisfy. Therefore, we should all draw inspiration from them and aim to be the heroes of today and tomorrow.
As you are all aware, Heroes Day this year is being commemorated under extraordinary circumstances.
The global outbreak of Covid-19 has affected our lives in unimaginable ways and at present, we find ourselves in a fight to preserve the lives of all Namibians. The reality of this fight has hit each and every Namibian, as we remember those that have lost their life as a result of this pandemic and those that are currently afflicted.
At this juncture, I pay tribute to our heroes and heroines from our Health Sector, the fighters on the frontlines who are our health workers. These brave men and women are our bulwark against the invisible enemy and we salute the immense sacrifices they are making to save Namibian lives, while sometimes foregoing their own safety. I also commend the Minister of Health and Social Services and his team for the leadership and foresight they have displayed during this most challenging of times. I also applaud our church leaders, traditional leaders, NGOs, workers, private sector, and all Namibians for standing together with the Government against Covid-19. We are confident that through our unity, resolve and resoluteness, we will prevail against Covid-19.
Let us take solace from the words of a great man, who faced many difficulties in his life but ultimately overcame all obstacles. I speak of none other than Commandante Fidel Castro, who remarked, “Ignorance is the root of many ills. Knowledge must be the fundamental ally of nations that aspire, despite all their tragedies and problems, to become truly emancipated, to build a better world.”
As we are faced with this huge battle against Covid-19, I urge that we shun ignorance and misinformation, which is the root cause of many ills. Rather, let us hold hands and share our knowledge and continue to aspire, despite our tragedies and problems, to become truly emancipated and to build a better world, free of poverty and disease.
The unbreakable bond of blood connects the people of Africa. It is this bond which our founding fathers used to ignite the spirit of Pan Africanism. It is this bond that fueled a continental uprising against colonial oppression. It is this bond that inspired the brave fighters of our Liberation Struggle.
The heroic feats of these extraordinary personalities, inspired us in the settler colonies of Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, to follow suit and pursue our basic human right to self-determination and independence.
SWAPO fighters, stirred by the wave of Pan-Africanism sweeping across the continent, and captained by Comrade Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma, decided to pursue the struggle for the independence of Namibia, against all odds.
Indeed, Namibia’s sons and daughters crossed many rivers of blood and fought bravely against tyranny, subjugation and racial oppression.
As we honour the memory of our brave sons and daughters who fought for Namibia’s independence, let us also remember, all those who have fallen post-independence, in the service of this nation – all those who put the nation first and who have died for the love of their motherland. All the soldiers, police officers, workers, professionals, farmers, mothers, fathers and young people who died in service to Namibia. We salute them for their valiant deeds.
Let us honour their sacrifices by leaving behind to the succeeding generations, a legacy of peace, unity and prosperity. It is my sincere desire that as we come together to honor our heroes and celebrate their extraordinary achievements and love of their country, we must be inspired to embody the ideals and values that they stood for during their lifetimes.
Our struggle for independence enabled us to define our own governance architecture, through the establishment of transparent and fair processes, sound systems and independent institutions i.e. Courts, which buttress our democracy.
Therefore, the key message of this heroes’ day is that Namibians are their own liberators – a message that was fundamental for the success of our revolution and a message we ought to inculcate in Namibians as we march towards the second phase of the struggle for economic emancipation.
We must be the authors of our own story, and the navigators of our own destiny. This should inspire us to collectively achieve great milestones. Together we must hold the future in our own hands. We must have as our goal, the building of a prosperous, caring and compassionate society.
So, on this historic moment of Heroes Day 2020, let us hold hands in unity and let us all celebrate that bond which keeps us together as One Namibia, One Nation.
I express gratitude, on behalf of all Namibians, in remembering all those who suffered so that we may be free. We remember their great resoluteness and gallantry, which helped achieve victory. May the souls of these brave sons and daughters of Namibia, rest in eternal peace.
Long live the memory of Namibia’s heroes and heroines.
Long live the Republic of Namibia.
I thank you.