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Tribute - The sacrifices of Ida Jimmy !Ha-Eiros

2024-04-12  Correspondent

Tribute - The sacrifices of Ida Jimmy !Ha-Eiros

As the sun rose on 16 November 1945, a leader by the name of Ida Jimmy was born in Lüderitz. We were told, with grief and sadness, that Ida Jimmy !Ha-Eiros’ sun set on 3 April 2024.

She was a passionate human being, with a particular urge to help others, which influenced her career choice to attend the Evangelical Lutheran Church Training Centre for kindergarten  teachers. 

Being committed and dedicated during her earlier years, she earned herself a position as a kindergarten teacher in Lüderitz.

Comrade Ida’s story is a long one.

She has been a supporter of Swapo since 1966, formally receiving her membership card in 1972 in Oshikuku, despite the Bantustan boundaries and restrictions of Namaland and Vamboland. 

This clearly indicates her commitment to the cause of Namibia’s liberation and freedom.

In 1977, comrade Ida was elected as Swapo Women’s Council chairlady and advisor to the executive committee of the Lüderitz branch. 

Through these various roles and others, she helped increase the membership of  the Swapo party through the development and engagement of the various party sections. On this basis, she was dismissed from her work at SWAFIL Fishing Company. This further illustrates the personal sacrifices and economic consequences of those who championed Namibia’s independence.

Clearly, it was not easy; therefore, we do not take their efforts for granted.

Comrade Ida was detained on several occasions, such as on the day of the Cassinga Camp attack, 4 May 1978. 

She was also detained in early 1979 in Lüderitz, where she was arrested and imprisoned at the Gobabis Prison under AG 26 for five months and three weeks with her one-year-old baby boy. After the incarceration, she was held under house arrest for one year in Lüderitz.

These were indeed difficult times, which illustrate the resolve and resilience of comrade Ida and her comrades of the time.

The detention did not stop, as while addressing a public rally in Lüderitz, she was arrested for conspiring and aiding freedom fighters after saying the following: “Comrades, give the Swapo fighters food and water. They are our sons, brothers and husbands”.

The above statement and the fear of the colonial forces led to the arrest of comrade Ida under AG 9. 

She was sentenced on 15 October 1980 to five years of imprisonment while she was seven months pregnant.

She gave birth in prison.

The prison authorities did not at first allow the release of the baby. However, the baby was released into the care of Julia Jimmy when he was two years old. 

The baby was taken to Ida’s mother in Lüderitz. 

However, he passed away in 1983, and Ida was not allowed to attend the funeral. 

This again illustrates the personal sacrifices and pain that our people went through. 

These were indeed difficult times with great injustices. It was not easy at all.

Comrade Ida was released on 15 October 1985 after completing her five-year sentence, and she was received by a joyful crowd of comrades in Windhoek and Lüderitz. 

In 1988, she was elected as vice chairperson of Swapo’s Windhoek branch – and in 1989, she was assigned a role in Lüderitz as election head and district coordinator until 1992. 

Thereafter, she had several other roles, such as Swapo party regional coordinator for //Kharas region from 1992, regional councillor for Keetmanshoop, member of the politburo and central committee member of Swapo.

Additionally, she received several awards, such as the highest award for bravery in 1990 from president Fidel
Castro in Havana, Cuba. 

She also received awards from Founding President Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma in 2001 and Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2009. 

On 30 July 2014, during the award ceremony organised by the Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC), the fearless comrade Ida narrated, “We started to organise ourselves, and started to be fearless. Our actions have resulted in us being arrested many times under severe prison conditions, but this did not stop us from continuing to fight the racist regime”. 

Comrade Ida, while expressing gratitude for the award to both Swapo and Swapo Party Women’s Council leadership, said, “I did not make the journey here alone. Numerous comrades have supported me along the way in a true Swapo party tradition. First, I learned the values of Swapo and true comradeship as well as in-depth education on the liberation struggle from my comrades. We learned as we grew up about the draconian labour system as well as other apartheid policies”.

It is worth noting that comrades such as Anton Lubowski, Magdalena Katuu Iipinge, Willie Emvula, Sussy Gideon, Erika Ramakhutla, Maria Kapere, Paulina Maharero, Alina Shipanga and many other comrades worked closely with comrade Ida.

She added, “Personally, for me, my long-term prison sentence was not easy, as I had to leave my kids to grow up with my mother. This has been extremely tough”.

On the same day, almost all attendees cried when comrade Jimmy, after receiving the award, stated, “This award is also dedicated to the son I gave birth to in prison, whom I could only bury after my prison sentence, Richard Konjeleni Jimmy. To me, he is a true hero”.

Comrade Ida raised the award and said, “This is for you”.

I will never forget that event.

The late Richard Konjeleni Jimmy passed away 31 years ago, and his mother dedicated an award to him for being a true hero, a symbol of the inner pain that comrade Ida endured for 41 years.

Lastly, the story of comrade Ida and other women stewards and leaders needs to be told.

Thus, the Swapo Party Women’s Council has started a project to document and record the role played by women during the pre-and post-liberation struggle, concentrating on the following aspects: social, economic, political, cultural and religious. 

In this way, we keep the memory and legend of brave leaders and women, such as comrade Ida, alive.

Go well, comrade. Go well!

*Fransina Ndateelela Kahungu is the secretary of the Swapo Party Women’s Council.

2024-04-12  Correspondent

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