WINDHOEK- President Hage Geingob says late Swapo vice-president Brendan Simbwaye is one of the individuals who personified the character traits of heroism by sacrificing his own safety - and ultimately his life - for the freedom of Namibia.
Geingob made the remarks in the speech read on his behalf by Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba on Tuesday during the launch of the book “Mystery Uncovered”, in which author, Dr Charles Mubita chronicles the political struggles, arrest, imprisonment, banishment, and eventual brutal assassination of the legendary Namibian politician.
Charles Mubita, himself a liberation war veteran, is a strategic communications and international relations specialist who - after actively participating in the war for liberation – acquired a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California, U.S.A.
Simbwaye, born in 1934 and who mysteriously died in 1972, was a Namibian anti-apartheid activist who was president of the defunct Caprivi African National Union (Canu). He became Vice-President of the Swapo in 1964 after the two organisations merged.
Simbwaye’s life and promising political career was cut short by the brutal apartheid machinery in 1972 when he disappeared without trace.
Geingob said the newly-launched book adds on to many accounts of the tenacity and bravery of the heroes and heroines of the Namibian struggle for independence.
“Brendan Simbwaye is among those illustrious sons and daughters of the Land of the Brave who dug a well for us. Today our people draw from that well, the freedom, peace, justice and stability that we enjoy today,” Geingob noted.
He noted with great appreciation the role played by the late Chief Petrus! Ganeb and his family in saving Simbwaye’s life when he faced death.
“The bravery of the !Ganeb household to dare the enemy in support of Simbwaye is unparalleled and deserves commendation and acknowledgement from all peace-loving Namibians,” said Geingob, who is one of Simbwaye’s successors as Swapo vice-president.
He is currently president of Swapo. “The !Ganeb siblings, Martin and Anna, who were introduced to us by the author, exemplify the deep-rooted Namibian spirit of solidarity, unity, togetherness, compassion and humanity. Indeed, that is the spirit of Ubuntu, the spirit that we need to cherish and display in our daily lives when we engage with each other,” the head of state said.
According to the !Ganeb siblings, as quoted in the book: “Brendan’s health situation was not good. He was frail and looked like a skeleton. He had fresh wounds all over his body from constant torture. He was malnourished and very sick.”
Chief !Ganeb is quoted saying: “We shall do our best to protect this gentleman. We shall rise to the challenge and face the lion in its own yard. I am a lion of Damaraland.”
Shockingly, the books reveals that Chief !Ganeb’s children, Martin and Anna, who risked their lives assisting Simbwaye, have been denied liberation struggle veteran status in independent Namibia.
Geingob said the essential human virtues of compassion and humanity defined the character of heroes such as Simbwaye, adding that Namibia will never forget the memory of this heroic son of the soil, who the nation has commemorated through the Brendan Simbwaye Building and the pride of the Namibian Navy, the patrol vessel Brendan Simbwaye.
Mubita in his book contends that it would be a historical injustice and betrayal to Simbwaye’s relentless and uncompromising heroism not to tell his story for the benefit of future generations and to ensure that his name finds a place in Namibian liberation folklore.
“Naming a few buildings and a vessel after him without acknowledging his contribution is tantamount to sugar-coating his legacy and defecating on his indelible mark on the liberation of Namibia. After all, even some of the most brutal oppressors of Namibia have streets, towns, etc named after them. Legendary, selfless, indefatigable and exemplary heroes of his stature deserve more than just street names,” Mubita argued in his book.
The book reveals a disturbing mystery about Simbwaye and Swapo, evidenced by the party’s deafening silence on his arrest, imprisonment, banishment and disappearance compared to Swapo’s vociferous and voluminous concerted campaigns for the release of lower-ranked Swapo members who were incarcerate on Robbin Island and elsewhere.
“Nowhere it is recorded that Swapo officials assisted Simbwaye in any form or manner during his struggles within the communities of Warmbad and Khorixas. In essence, Simbwaye was treated as an outcast by the organisation he defended up to his last breath,” the book reads.
The book shows there is a group of people who feels Simbwaye is not celebrated and honoured at the same level as other Namibian heroes, adding the Swapo government should have done more to reserve a symbolic grave for him at the Heroes Acre.