ONESI - The mood at the residence of the late retired major-general Peter Nambundunga in Onesi village of Omusati Region is somber.
Mourners arrive one-by-one or in groups sobbing. Some are on their own while others have accompanied children and other relatives of the celebrated late army commander.
Among the mourners are a number of Namibian Defence Force (NDF) soldiers, Retired Bishop Josephat Shanghala, the Councillor of Onesi Constituency Titus Kanyele.
The man who was their hero, helper and role model to many is no more.
The sister of the late general described her brother as a family man who had great love for his family and had a great passion for reading and writing.
Nambundunga died on Monday at Ongwediva Medipark after an illness. He was 71.
While known as ‘Cosmos’, a serious army commander who was reserved, laughed less and made little or no jokes, Nambundunga was a different persona when it came to his family.
His elder sister Ndasilwohenda Shikongo (Nambundunga) described her brother as a “naughty boy who befriended everyone and loved teasing people” as a child.
“He was born after me, I am his elder sister,” Shikongo introduced herself.
She said Nambundunga was one of her eight siblings.
Born Petrus Kagadhinwa Nambundunga in Onesi village in June 03, 1947, Peter grew up as a disciplined child who was serious about his childhood’s responsibilities of looking after livestock and other household chores.
“He was a very clever boy but at the same time, he was also playful. He liked teasing people and will laugh about it,” she said smiling as she recalled her brother’s childhood memory.
Shikongo added that Nambundunga’s life was also very fast as he got a formal education and got into other roles. He completed Standard 10 (Grade 12) at Oshigambo High School. He then went to look for a job in Windhoek where he joined South African Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC).
While employed by SWABC, Nambundunga also explored his passion of writing and authored several books but the most popular one was titled ‘Kandali nookuume ke.’
But before his family knew it, Peter had left the country and joined the liberation struggle in exile. That was in February 1974.
“He used to visit the village and many times we had learned how he eluded death during several contacts with South African army, but he never visited home. He only used to send his colleagues if he needed money or cosmetics. I believe that he did this to protect his family,” Shikongo said.
One specific events that Shikongo recalls was when her brother miraculously survived the South African soldiers’ bullets while confined to a big tree near Etunda village.
“He apparently kept dodging around the tree trunk and the bullets kept hitting the trunk. We don’t know how he survived that fight but we immediately learnt about his fate because Etunda is not too far from here (Onesi),” she said.
It was in exile where he met another relative of his, Nambundunga Imwata. Nambundunga is named after Peter’s father, Reverend Paavo Nambundunga.
Recalling their days in exile, Imwata said Peter was an army commander who had a rare talent when it came to motivating the troops.
Imwata said although he knew Peter before the exile days, they were never really close as Peter spent most of his time in Oshakati and Windhoek. But when they met in 1977 in Zambia, the two grew closer. Peter was a training officer at the time.
Between 1978 and 1979 the two were sent to the Eastern war front where Peter was a political commissar.
“The man was a soldier, self-motivated and being a political commissar it was his job to motivate the soldiers and his fellow commanders. He kept telling us that whatever happens, the struggle must continue, we had to liberate Namibia at all cost. I knew him as a very quiet man who only spoke when spoken to but his job forced him to speak more,” said Imwata.
Imwata said he and Nambundunga parted ways in the early 80s when they both were sent for studies in Germany and Russia respectively.
This was until 1991 in the independent Namibia when they met in Windhoek.
Nambundunga was a senior Nambian Defence Force commander, based in Grootfontein.
Upon his return from exile, Nambundunga immediately shifted back into his role of being a caring brother, a community member and by then he was also a father and husband.
Shikongo maintained that her younger brother was a man of order who loved his children but spoke to them as a soldier whenever he discipline them.
“He was very helpful, he was a giving man. He was always ready to assist where he could but if you piss him off, he will stay away from you,” his sister Shikongo added.
“He was also a great friend to his wife, they worked well together.”
Nambundunga was survived by his wife Cecilia Nambundunga, 13 children and three sisters.
At the time of his passing, the retired Major General who retired as chief of staff for NDF, was serving as a special advisor to the Governor of Ohangwena Region Usko Nghaamwa.
His funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.