Jariretundu Kozonguivi, an intellectual militant internationalist was a brainchild of the African National Congress in Eastern Cape while at Fort Hare University, while Sam Nujoma is a crude breed of the railway contract labour system that forced him to adopt African nationalism to fight for their rights.
Having passed through the phase of African Nationalism, the strategy of the African National Congress (ANC) was to internationalise the struggle beyond the confines of the African borders and to find new friends in the Communist Party of Joe Slovo and others. This had an epitomic impression on the radical Kozo who went abroad before most of the Namibian leaders to mobilise international support for the armed struggle, especially from China and the Soviet Union. Kozo never relinquished his membership of the ANC, a position that initially motivated SWANU leadership to support the ANC as the first legitimate liberation movement in Africa formed in 1912.
Contrary to contemporary historians who argue that the germination of SWAPO was influenced by the ANC, the founding members of the Ovamboland Peoples Organisation (OPO) including Toivo ya Toivo rather worked closely with the Pan-Africanists, especially in Cape Town. This is the group that would eventually transform into SWAPO that consistently proclaimed Pan-African Nationalism. Thus the Nujomas or Toiva Ya Toivo’s aversion to the ideals of the ANC’s Freedom Charter that for many years was perceived to compromise Pan-Africanism by many in the Diaspora and African intellectuals on the continent. The Namibian political and historical context could have never entertained the Freedom Charter in all its manifestations. To this end, SWAPO was never a brainchild of the African National Congress during its formative phase.
December 10, 1959 in the Old Location was a cardinal point that propelled Nujoma’s divorce from OPO’s regional identity and who cleverly joined SWANU’s platform to consolidate a broad-based nationalist struggle that brought him in direct contact with the centrally-based nationalist activism leadership that included non-Oshiwambo speaking leaders such as Hosea Kutako, who inspired him to shake off the tribal identity and assume national leadership as history has unequivocally came to confirm.
Kozo was by then out of the country on a mission initially endorsed by Hosea Kutako that unfortunately did not bear fruit. He allegedly was deported to Cuba by the USA immigration on his arrival from Moscow at the Kennedy International Airport, sabotaging his United Nations address. Incidentally Mburumba Kerina, also an emissary of Kutako and a staunch supporter of Nujoma, was already in New York where he was an effective petitioner. Using his influence at the UN, he advised Nujoma to form SWAPO, a move that rivalled Kozo and his party SWANU. Kerina’s presence at the UN might have been pivotal in Kozo being denied the UN platform, knowing that his mission was not to deliver a petition as such but to drop the bombshell that Namibians inside the country were ready for an armed liberation struggle.
Unlike the Pan-African pragmatist Nujoma, the dogmatist neo-Marxist Kozonguizi, at the height of the Cold War had already declared allegiance to China and the Soviet Union, a position that made him very unpopular in Africa and rejected by Hosea Kutako at home. Kozo declared the two socialist Eastern super powers, China and the Soviet Union, as the true friends of Africa, in the process down-playing the role of Pan-Africanism in world politics. This proved to be a serious strategic mistake that backfired on his party SWANU as the African block accused him of arrogance and ditched him in favour of the moderate, submissive and pragmatic Sam Nujoma who courted the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to support SWAPO’s crude Pan African nationalism as opposed to SWANU’s international socialism.
Kozo’s temporary elevation to the high ground of international politics that was partly due to his powerful oratory gift and ideological firmness later convinced the Southern African Liberation Movements to turn to the Eastern Countries for support. They also chose him to represent them at various platforms of the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO), a political organ that campaigned on behalf the African liberation movements for international support. Unfortunately, Kozo’s international commitments that compelled him to shuttle between continents resulted in his neglect of his SWANU offices in Cairo, Egypt and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania as well as Namibia’s internal political dynamics. To an extent alienation with Hosea Kutako whose petition strategy he never fully endorsed, also crept in.
This was one of the strategic differences between Kozonguizi and Nujoma who at all times expressed his adoration of Hosea Kutako, a position that gained him support among the likes of Peter Katjavivi, Hijakati Katjiuanjoi and Ngarikutuke Tjiriange who preferred the platform of SWAPO than SWANU. This strategy also helped Sam Nujoma to have free access into the domain of the Chief: the Herero-speaking community. Not only that, Katjikururume as Hosea Kutako was known, had gained national endorsement from many non-Herero speaking leaders.
Kozo retired into oblivion, highly frustrated by the African continent, United Nations and to a partial extent the Ovaherero Chief’s Council that had meantime embraced Clemens Kapuuo’s leadership at home at the expense of SWANU. His legacy was left with Moses Katjiuongua and Zed Ngavirue as well as other members of the SWANU External Council to pursue. Unfortunately, the party never fully recovered to regain the political heights that it once enjoyed during Kozo’s leadership abroad.
Let us, as we celebrate Namibia’s birthday, this week stop for a minute to honour these two giants in the history of our brave nation. They remain Namibia’s true heroes.
* Dr Rukee Tjingaete is a critical social and political analyst and researcher mostly applying critical theories to examine the issues that affect Namibia. He is a media specialist holding a PhD obtained from Michigan State in the USA. He is currently teaching various subjects in tourism and strategic management at IUM. This opinion is written in his own capacity.
2019-03-22 09:43:59 30 days ago