Nuusita Ashipala EENHANA - People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) first woman soldier Auguste Immanuel, affectionately known as Mukwahepo, was laid to rest at the Eenhana Shrine on Saturday. The 80-year-old passed on at Engela State Hospital on May 30. Mukwahepo’s burial was the third at the site, following the interment of remains from mass graves that were re-buried there when it was ingurated by then President Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2005, and the burial of Matheus Hedimbi Naujoma on March 3, 2017. The revered soldier was the first woman to had undergone military training alongside men, for more than seven years, at the Kongwa Military Training Centre for liberation movements, particularly those from southern Africa. She went on to look after children and become a pioneer soldier for other women joining Swapo in exile. Also, she played a pivotal role in receiving Swapo-trained soldiers from Zambia in transit to Namibia. Although she did not have biological children of her own, Mukwahepo was a mother and grandmother to many in exile. At independence she was repatriated along with five children that she took care of in exile, according to Ellen Namhila’s book about the life of Mukwahepo. While the rest of the mourners sung praises of the late Mukwahepo at both the memorial and burial, her grandchildren appealed to government, particularly to the directorate of veterans affairs, to take care of the ageing veterans whilst they are still alive. “Ideally, appreciate those who are still alive - they will feel incredible to be assisted while they are still alive,” the grandchildren said in a speech read by Oscar Hauwanga. They also appealed to government to employ at least one or two of them in order to fill the gap left by their grandmother’s death. They alleged none of them are employed by government. In his speech, President Hage Geingob – who accorded Mukwahepo a state funeral – said Namibians are indebted to the late heroine’s deeds. She joined the struggle out of conviction and purpose that Namibia’s freedom was a birthright worth fighting and dying for, the head of state said. “She did not join the struggle for glory,” he said. Former president Sam Nujoma, PLAN’s commander-in-chief, described her as a distinctive leader who kept the torch of freedom alive during the trying times of the liberation struggle. “Mukwahepo was a brave, gallant fighter who served the Namibian people with distinction and tenacity,” Nujoma said in a speech read on his behalf by Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba. “Mukwahepo did a lot and took the initiative to lead the Namibian women,” former president Hifikepunye Pohamba said as he described Mukwahepo as a pioneering model for other women to be trained militarily. Mukwahepo joined the liberation struggle at the age of 27 when she accompanied her fiancé Shikongo Hangala in 1963. The burial was attended by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi and the Swapo Secretary General Sophia Shaningwa. The burial was also attended by the Consul General of Angola Fransisco Correia and Judge President Petrus Damaseb.
2018-06-11 09:13:11 3 months ago