Dr Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma epitomises and exudes the elasticity, longevity and as our President Hage Geingob would say the “Resilience of Namibia” by being the only one still with all of us on the continent of his era. These are the true real revolutionaries born and hewn in the crucible of the Cold War times.
Dr Nujoma advanced Namibia’s total political freedom and emancipation of our nation without fear or favour, and this tireless revolutionary treaded where angels dared to tread. He never stood back or allowed himself to be swayed by any wind of ideological existence as he was clear, together with the collective leadership of Swapo, on what it is they were fighting for and what type of society they wanted to see forming a fledgling Namibian nation united in purpose.
The decision to embrace national reconciliation, which meant holding hands with erstwhile enemies, was not easy. It was a path that the founding father of our nation knew would ensure a clear transformation from the shackles of apartheid and colonialism to an economically self-sustained country able to be counted among the most stable economies on the continent.
The clarity of Dr Nujoma’s thinking manifested even further when he articulated and pronounced that the next phase of the people’s struggle in Namibia was the economic struggle. To him, political freedom without economic freedom meant no freedom. To Dr Nujoma, restitution through land redistribution would see national reconciliation having the true meaning of freedom embraced and enjoyed by the ordinary masses of our country.
As a progressive internationalist and respected revolutionary, Dr Nujoma advanced and supported the causes of other like-minded progressive forces through organisations such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the World Peace Council, even being branded an international terrorist leader by imperialist forces.
He was never deterred, defocussed and never entertained the idea of compromising his revolutionary principles. This is of course clearly documented in the historical annals of friends such as Cuba, Palestine and Western Sahara, to name but a few.
Whilst we fondly remember and salute his peers, who have departed into the ages, we count ourselves blessed and enriched by Dr Nujoma’s presence in our midst at the age of 93 as not only the Founding Father of our nation, but as the last of his calibre and of his time.
At the inception of Independence, Dr Sam Nujoma declared an outright war against the new enemies of the people of Namibia and these were poverty, ignorance and nepotism. Nation-building was always Dr Nujoma’s mantra, and he worked tirelessly at this by ensuring that the youth and women’s issues, including the elderly and the workers, were addressed through the formation of ministries in his government to deal with these as priorities. He pushed for a resolution to be approved by congress to forge for the 50/50 concept. He maintained that women are the best drivers and the best at repaying their debts. He speaks about mothers as a rare gem. His late mother was his icon and role model. May the soul of Kuku Helvi-Mpingana Kondombolo rest in eternal peace. She was also affectionately known as Kuku Gwakondo, and sadly passed on at the age of 108 years.
I am living proof of his conviction of women’s empowerment. Under his able leadership as the Swapo party president and that of the country, I became the first-ever female deputy chairperson/deputy speaker of the National Council (NC) in Namibia, and later first female chairperson/speaker of the NC. Am also proud that I could serve the Swapo Women’s Council (SPWC) for five consecutive terms since independence as CC member, and eventually grew into my fourth term in the CC of the mother body and first term as politburo member.
Tate Sam, as many affectionately call him, is a role model and mentor to many youth.
He would advocate for women and children to be respected and given access to opportunities. He believes the youth can develop the country, and fought for the education of young people as a pre-requisite to economic emancipation.
Our founding father did not only advance education from the podium as the most essential tool needed by the Namibian people to compete internationally, but instead himself enrolled into the University of Namibia (Unam), whose transformation into a fully-fledged and internationally recognised university was done under his watch. Science and Geology were important subjects, and he believed our country has to empower our young people by studying these subjects to become engineers, etc. He set an example by completing a degree in Geology, thereby setting the tone and encouraging many others to follow suite.
I recall the clarion call he made for all Namibians to join him in building the railway line from Tsumeb to Oshivelo and on to Ondangwa. This became a powerful rallying point for unity and today, we can proudly state we build that project with our own hands as Namibians, and it stands as a reminder of our ability that unity in a sense of purpose is unstoppable.
There are so many lessons to be drawn from the life and times of this living, walking, breathing icon in our midst that one would need to sit the entire night tabulating them.
A true general, officer and a gentleman second to none.
We salute the hero of the Namibian revolution.