The late former Swapo secretary general and ex-Cabinet minister Ngarikutuke Tjiriange has been eulogised by President Hage Geingob as a “thinker of note” among his Swapo comrades.
Tjiriange, who was Namibia’s first justice minister, died two weeks ago at home.
He was 77.
Accorded a national heroes’ funeral, Tjiriange will be laid to rest today at the Heroes Acre.
In a tribute speech, read on his behalf by Vice President Nangolo Mbumba at Tjiriange’s memorial service yesterday, Geingob said Tjiriange’s courage in the face of adversity and his outstanding achievements in service to his country have earned him a place to rest among those men and women called heroes of Namibia.
He said Tjiriange chose to forgo his own safety and wellbeing to partake in a perilous and bitter struggle so that today, the country’s citizens live as a united people under the skies of a free and independent Namibia.
“He did not join the struggle so he could be remembered as a hero; instead, he chose to do so out of a sense of patriotism and conviction to free himself and his fellow Namibians from the bondage of racism, colonialism and imperialism,” Geingob said.
He said the conviction that drove stalwarts like Tjiriange is aptly captured by the late Congolese independence leader and first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, who said: “Without dignity, there is no liberty; without justice, there is no dignity – and without independence, there are no free men”.
He said, thanks to heroes such as Tjiriange that Namibians have banished the ignominy of living under apartheid colonialism to live as free, independent and dignified people, enjoying peace, unity, liberty and justice, which are the gains of the country’s liberation struggle.
Tjiriange joined Swapo in the early 1960s in Windhoek before leaving for exile in 1964.
Geingob said being an individual, characterised by high intellect and astuteness, Tjiriange was one of those who brought a scholarly approach to the struggle by harnessing academic theory and thought into revolutionary action.
In 1969, at the Tanga Consultative Congress, Tjiriange was chosen as Swapo’s deputy secretary for legal and economic affairs – and was later appointed as secretary for legal affairs in 1976.
Geingob said Tjiriange exerted his brain, took deep earnest studious counsel of his mind, and applied himself to the challenges of the struggle.
While in exile, Tjiriange studied law in the Soviet Union, obtaining a doctorate in law from Kiev University in 1973, resulting in him being appointed as the principal legal advisor of Swapo from the 1970s until Namibia’s independence.
Tjiriange became minister of justice in 1990, serving in that position for 13 years.
He also doubled up as attorney general from March 2000 to January 2001.
He was nominated as secretary general of Swapo by then president Sam Nujoma at the party›s 2002 congress and was elected to that portfolio.
He also served as minister of veterans’ affairs, and thereafter as adviser to various ministers. Geingob appointed Tjiriange as the special coordinator on heritage sites, where he facilitated the construction of the museum in honour of the late chief Hosea Kutako.
Geingob said Tjiriange held the project dear to his heart and was committed to carrying it out with the characteristic vigour and dedication, with which he had executed all his duties in service to Swapo and the country.
“This is the man I am proudly paying tribute to today – a hero in the true sense, committed, dedicated and patriotic to the very end. To meme Julianne, you have stood by your husband as only a good and loving wife can,” he said.