Rev. Jan Scholtz
It was a Saturday afternoon when myself and Peya Junior Mushelenga visited one of the soft-spoken and instrumental women in the Namibia liberation struggle, Meme Selma Kapiya-Kamati at her house in Lüderitz. Born and raised in the small town of Lüderitz, the 78-year-old war veteran welcomed us at her home with a smile as she jokingly said, “I have been waiting for your visit since independence”, because we were late for the interview. Meme Selma Kapia-Kamati was registered for veteran status in 2010 and she had applied for a project and a house which are still pending.
Meme Selma narrated her involvement in the liberation struggle of Namibia, specifically highlighting events that are still fresh in her mind. She got involved in the fight against the apartheid regime from 1959 through the Ovambo People Organisation (OPO), when she was working at the hospital in Windhoek, where they used to assist the wounded patients. Meme Selma recalled an incident that took place on the 10th of December 1959, she said “inatu kotha” which means “we did not sleep”, as she adjusted her seat.
On that fateful evening, a popular hall in Katutura was attacked by the colonial regime where the late Kakurukaze Mungunda took a bottle in an attempt to hit the vehicle of the South African force but this led to her death – the other victim that she could remember only by the name Meme Eva who was brought to the hospital in a critical condition. After seeing all these, she spent sleepless nights thinking how she would contribute to the liberation struggle to ensure that Namibia got its independence. They started mobilising people in Windhoek with other veterans, amongst others; the late Kambangula and Agnes Tjongarero.
Meme Selma’s profession did not stop her from contributing towards the liberation struggle. She moved to back to Lüderitz to work at the local hospital. They would meet up at night and make rounds in the Compounds to mobilize people to join OPO, and this was done deliberately in the night with the fear of being caught, because the South African armed force would beat you and lock you up. She remembers how Tate Barnabas Hosea would avail his house for their meetings with Tate Isai Itengeneka, Tate Johannes Nelenge, Tate Lukas Shoombe aka Buti Kom Kyk, amongst others.
When patients were to be treated in Cape Town, she would be asked to accompany them in order to translate to the colleagues in Cape Town. In 1972, while accompanying a patient in Cape Town, she met the late Uncle Paul, luckily they happened to know each other. Being familiar with the place, he would then take the Namibians that were visiting to a popular location where most of the Namibians were staying, and they started mobilizing them. She also happened to attend a meeting where white people spoke out about the injustice that the South African armed force was carrying out in South West Africa (Namibia), and she was in the company of Peter Mweshihange and the late Peter Kauluma.
In 1962, Meme Selma received a telegram from the late Kauluma and Mweshihange informing her that Lineekela Kalenga and Dr Hage Geingob were in Botswana on their way to Tanganyika (Tanzania), however they needed money to proceed. She organised the money and met up with Fillip Nehemia in Johannesburg who then took the money. Fortunately for Dr Hage Geingob, he received money from home in Tsumeb and proceeded before the money could reach them. Linekela Kalenga followed after and they met up in Tanzania.
Meanwhile in Lüderitz the fearless veteran and others continued to mobilize the community of Lüderitz to join the Liberation Struggle. She remembers the likes of Meme Ida Jimmy (first Regional Councilor of Keetmanshoop Urban). Meme Selma lost her job as a nurse because her boss got hold of the letters which came to her from fellow veterans in Tanzania (Tanganyika), and she got employed after two years at a local factory called (Swafil), where she worked with the likes of Patrick Iyambo (Lungada).
“The struggle was bitter and long,” said Meme Selma as she prepared herself to give her message to the youth. “The youth need to acknowledge those who sacrificed their lives in order for this country to gain independence – people were locked up, beaten up and killed. Therefore, the youth must look at the past and present in order to organise themselves to take our country forward, because if they are not organised, we will find ourselves in the similar situation like in the early 60s.” As she concludes, Meme Selma emphasised that the street names, particularly in Lüderitz must be named after people who made significant contributions to the Liberation Struggle of Namibia.
“Let us celebrate our people while they are alive, and let us recognised those that left without seeing the independent Namibia,” she said.
We were very impressed by the way Meme Selma Kapia-Kamati welcomed us to her home which does not belong to her. The very humble woman never missed news hence our interview was short and straight to the point to allow her to catch up on the NBC 8 o’clock news. It was very heart-warming to have a one-on-one interview with someone who has been part of the Liberation Struggle just like others, and we thank God for this rare opportunity.
*Reverend Jan. A. Scholtz is a holder of a Diploma in Youth Work and Development from the University of Zambia (UNZA). This article is written in his personal capacity.
New Era Reporter
2019-04-03 09:35:31 3 months ago