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Hero’s funeral suggested for Shixwameni

2021-11-15  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Hero’s funeral suggested for Shixwameni
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Former Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) leaders have paid glowing tribute to their late secretary general and president Ignatius Shixwameni, calling on President Hage Geingob to confer a hero’s funeral on the late opposition leader.

Shixwameni, who was still a parliamentarian and president of the All People’s Party (APP), died on Wednesday, aged 55.

Describing him as a charismatic, intelligent but humble pioneer of youth bravery worth emulating, deputy finance minister Maureen Hinda-Mbuende said “Ignatius has with no doubt left a deep void in the political fraternity. Indeed, a hero of his own class, who departed on an exceptional note.” “Ignatius Ngotongo Shixwameni is one such youth and student leader of our generation who would qualify squarely for a hero’s recognition, and if he does not get it, none of our generation of internal leaders will ever get there. It would be a befitting honour, I would say, and like to recommend as such,” she stated. 

Recounting Nanso’s formative years, National Planning Commission (NPC) director general Obeth Kandjoze said Shixwameni always expressed his views clearly and boldly, and was not afraid to call out or challenge injustice, exclusion and oppression. 

“He had a good sense of humour, especially when expressed in his mother tongue of Rukwangali, during our formative years in Nanso as youth activists. His scholarship was inseparable from his personal values and critical engagement with politics in Namibia, other parts of Africa, and the world at large,” he observed. 

Kandjoze described Shixwameni as a versatile firebrand politician, who was gifted and had an incredibly open, perceptive and critical mind. 

“He was charming, kind and resolute - personality traits that were a product of his core values of fairness, inclusiveness, equality in all its dimensions and contempt for corruption and authoritarian habits,” he said. 
He added that during the former dispensation, Shixwameni thought deeply about the structures of domination that stifled the aspirations of ordinary people, leading to grossly unequal outcomes in the political economy.

“As a student and young leader in Nanso, he was active in the struggles of the students’ movement, labour unions and the universities, which, in the 1980s, advocated an agenda of social transformation in addressing the problems of inequality, ethnic division and authoritarian rule.   “Radical social thought and praxis, influenced by Marxist and dependency theories of development, were rife on Namibian/South African campuses and in sections of the wider society,” Kandjoze noted.
He said Shixwameni was a good speaker, but an even better listener. Above all, and perhaps most strikingly, Shixwameni had the rare ability to reach out to millions of people of all political persuasions and of none across the country who were untouched by, and in many cases actively hostile to, politics. 

City of Windhoek executive and former trade unionist George Mayumbelo, who first met Shixwameni at the Academy for Tertiary Education (now NUST) in 1985, said it was easy for him to notice that Shixwameni had the required attributes of a cadre who could be trusted with the country’s struggle for independence.  “He was observant, listened well, was principled, strong-willed and brave,” he added. 

He stated that Shixwameni was also interested in the struggles at the Academy, which included the demand for an English medium of instruction, fighting elitism and political apathy among students, and confronting the arrogance of the predominantly Afrikaner leadership of the institution. 

“It was unusual for junior students to show their commitment to the struggle and opposition to the leadership of the Academy,” he continued.

Shixwameni was born in Shambyu in the Kavango East region. He was a student leader of Nanso at the dawn of independence, was a Swapo youth leader from 1987 to 1999, and a Swapo central committee member from 1992 to 1997. Elected to parliament in 1999 as a member of the party, he later joined the opposition Congress of Democrats (CoD) in 2000 as their chief whip

Shixwameni resigned from the CoD in December 2007 along with 21 other members. He founded a new party, the APP, in October 2009, after which the APP elected him as the party’s candidate for president.  

2021-11-15  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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