Dr Peya Mushelenga
On the fateful morning of 7 December 2020, death robbed our country and continent a devoted revolutionary and Pan-African Mandela Kapere, affectionately known as MK. He was a man who grew up from a town boy to an admired youth leader on the African continent, a legislator who was passionate about social justice and national interests, and a Party cadre who put the interest of the Party above his own.
The illustrious youthful politician’s life trajectory started in the Namib Desert. Born at Arandis on 4 June 1982 to a family of freedom fighters, Asser and Maria Kapere, MK was moulded into politics at a tender age and grew to become a cadre of magnanimous traits. The dessert environment in which he grew up exemplified his characteristics. He could persist amidst trials and tribulations like a welwitschia mirabillis plant that perseveres in harsh climatic conditions. He further epitomised broader thinking and far-sightedness.
MK attended Tamariskia Primary School and English High School (now West Side High School), in Swakopmund, where his leadership qualities unfolded. He served as a head boy and junior mayor of Swakopmund. In addition, he became involved in student activism and rose through the ranks in the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso). Later, he served as Nanso Secretary of International Affairs and eventually became President.
In 2004, Namibia took up the position of deputy secretary general of the Pan-African Youth Union (PAYU). Historically, the country has been represented at the continental youth forum by Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL). Accordingly, it was my responsibility as SPYL Secretary for International Affairs by then to find a suitable candidate to be deployed to the PAYU Headquarters in Algiers, Algeria.
I approached MK, who is a typical spirit of self-sacrificing agreed to take up the position at the cost of foregoing his studies at the University of Namibia (Unam) where he had enrolled for a degree in Political Science – what a selfless cadre! He took up his international assignment in 2005 and returned home in 2008. This position propelled MK into a Pan-African youth of note, a great thinker and strategist par excellence.
MK and I served as Members of the Central Committee of SPYL from 2007 to 2012. He rose to the occasion and prevailed as a steadfast and firm voice of reasoning, personifying party discipline and attributes of a well-brought-up child. He regularly engaged me on matters of SPYL direction and Swapo Party dynamics. He further sought my views on issues related to international relations in general. During this period, MK demonstrated a level of maturity and emotional stability. He did not entertain or get carried away by mischievous satire-like political episodes of inconsequential upshots and miscarried euphoria.
In 2008, MK became secretary general and later executive chairperson of the National Youth Council (NYC) of Namibia. The following year, he was appointed chairperson of the board of the National Youth Service by President Hifikepunye Pohamba, becoming an advocate of youth development and socio-economic advancement. On 5 March 2010, MK married the woman of his dreams, Stella Tomas, a Mozambican national, remaining true to his Pan-African beliefs. Their marriage is blessed with two children, Mayara and son Turimuye.
At the 2017 Swapo Party congress, MK was elected member of the Central Committee of Swapo Party and inevitably elected to the Namibian Legislature during the general election held in November 2019. He was sworn in as a member of the National Assembly in March this year. I vividly remember him making his maiden speech in parliament, which he dedicated to the memories of the late Chris Hawala his former colleague in Nanso who passed on in 2008.
He was a go-getter who blended fast in the legislative system. He embodied the qualities of political sobriety, composed reasoning and diplomatic civility. He was an articulate speaker and persuasive debater, a talent nurtured by his hobby of reading extensively books of Political Science and Philosophy. MK was also into gardening, growing fruits, herbs and veggies that served as a source of finger-licking meals for his family. His favourite cuisine was Feijojarda, a Portuguese dish that he was introduced to by his dear wife.
On Saturday, 6 August 2020, MK sent me a message that he had not been well, as he has contracted Covid-19. Little did I know that he was going to leave us in two days time. I applaud him for the contribution that he made to Swapo Party and Namibian nation. I salute him for his truest camaraderie. May his soul rest in eternal peace!