Fransina Ndateelela Kahungu
The day of one’s birth has a close relation with the day of their passing. This exactly happened on Saturday, 25 December 2021 when the soul of comrade Esther Lusia Shikongo started resting in eternal peace.
This sad news, received with shock by many whose minds were pre-occupied by Christmas celebrations, in addition to the 80th birthday celebration of comrade Shikongo, who was born on 25 December 1941, by mother Elizabeth Nashikoto Malima and father Josef Shikongo. Comrade Esther, was the last-born of seven children (one of them is still alive). One of her siblings is late comrade Andimba Herman Toivo Ya Toivo.
I express profound gratitude to President Hage Geingob for conferring the honour of an official funeral to late comrade Esther Lusia Shikongo.
She is described by many as a humble woman, a hero not only amongst the rank and file of Swapo but amongst the community and certainly her own extended family that she served with diligence and dedication until her last days.
Comrade Esther joined Swapo in 1964, in Oluno, Ondangwa; under the leadership of liberation stalwarts tatekulu Eliaser Tuhadeleni, Mzee Kaukungwa and Nathanael Maxuilili. May their souls continue to rest in eternal peace. Comrade Esther experienced personal hardship of the liberation struggle in September 1966, when her brother Andimba Toivo ya Toivo was captured at his shop, an unfortunate event witnessed by their mother too.
Comrade Ester was heavily involved in Swapo party activities in the Windhoek branch from 1976 together with comrades such as Marco Hausiku, Daniel Tjongarero, Immanuel Ngatjizeko, Jeremia Nambinga, Gabriel Iithete, Hilma Iithete, Hileni Iilonga, Elina Ndapuka, Gabriel Nuunyango, Ida Hoffmann, Elia George Kaiyamo, Albin Ilovu, Silas Emvula, Andreas Themba, Magnaem Angula, Japie Nangolo, Bella Cupido and many others.
During the liberation struggle, tactics had to be changed to suit various situations. Therefore, Swapo members in the Windhoek branch conducted a security operation under chief commander Immanuel Mwatara, which comrade Esther was part of. She was an intelligent person and this was observed by fellow comrades of that time. Against that background, she worked with strictly confidential matters together with comrades Andreas Nakanyala, Abed Himarwa, Makau Mulondo, Jason Nghidinua, Peter Nangombe, Jason Amulungu, Nicky Nuuyuni and many others.
We are referring to a mobiliser of note who took part in mass meetings at various places such as Oshakati under the leadership of comrade Tauno Hatuikulipi, and with the assistance of comrades Skin Hilundwa and Dr Thomas Ihuhua who arranged fuel and other necessities. In addition, comrade Ester was kind, caring and giving. Comrades such as the late Peter (Tshelagane) Iilonga, John (Magala) Pandeni, John Iimbili, Kapitaholo (Man van Krombene) took refuge in her house.
In 2021, the Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC) celebrated 51 years of existence. To comrade Esther, this was a celebration of 51 years of membership in SPWC. She was one of the people who joined SPWC at its founding, together with other comrades such as Hileni Namalambo, Magnaem Angula, Martha Ford, Bella Cupido, Elina Ndapuka, Ida Hoffmann and many others. As put by comrade Ida Hoffmann, that time the slogan was, “Whatever it cost, we will free our country”. She further said that people were working as a united front aiming to liberate the country. One of the principles guiding their activities was honesty as this was essential for the total liberation of the country, emphasised comrade Ida.
Comrade Esther served in various leadership capacities of SPWC in the Windhoek branch. Other people who served as leaders of SPWC together with her are Hileni Iilonga, Merijam Nangolo, Toini Hatuikulipi-Hausiku, Hilma Mwatara, Hilma Iithete, Cicilie David, Josephina Haufiku, Josephina Mbwiti, Maria Amutenya, Ndaitavela Nghiidipaa, Emma Hainyanyula, Natalia Naambo Matheus, Oumama Shikwambi, Martha Joseph, Comrade Amalia, Magreth Gwagwamang, Comrade Butkus, Kandali Angula, Renathe Tjongarero, Lena Shimwafeni, Magnaem Angula, Frieda Kaahanga, Feitjie Basson, Getrud Kandanga, Dorothea Mendor, and many others.
Under the leadership of comrade Esther and others, young women were purposefully brought into leadership for grooming purposes. Among young women were comrades such as, Rosalia Tuhadeleni, Lavinia Mwatinghimunhu-Nelongo, Loide Shuungula-Kaiyamo, Cecilia Hinda, Elizabeth Mwaningange, Erna Hoebes and many others. We are referring to resilient SPWC leaders of Windhoek branch before the independence of Namibia.
Furthermore, a businessperson in her own right, she worked closely with comrade David Hosea Meroro. Specifically, comrade Esther was a chef who managed to raise her own funds through selling mainly foodstuff. A skill she mastered to the extent that when Namibians returned from exile in the year 1989, the welcoming dinner for the SPWC leaders was hosted by SPWC Windhoek branch at the residence of comrade Esther. During that time, she served as a treasurer for SPWC Windhoek branch. The team of SPWC leaders from exile who attended the welcoming dinner was led by comrade Pendukeni Ivula-Ithana, secretary of SPWC then as well as Tsukoe Orr //Gowases. From the year 1990, comrade Esther continued to serve Swapo and its structures: as Katutura East District coordinator for 10 years, while comrade Elia George Kaiyamo served as an information and mobilisation officer. Both served in the position with commitment until they handed over the leadership to young people to carry on.
We pay tribute to an educationalist, who in 2005 at the age of 64 enrolled herself at the then Polytechnic of Namibia to improve her English proficiency. Comrade Esther, a founder and teacher of her own early childhood development centre, believed that one should possess literacy skills to communicate and transfer knowledge to others.
As a devoted Christian, comrade Esther served the Lutheran congregation of Macedonia in Windhoek where she occupied a special spot and member of the choir. A good singer she was. Comrade Esther’s connection to spiritual matters earned her trust in the Council of Churches in Namibia under the leadership of CCN Bishop James Kauluma.
May her joy here on earth be a shield of our inheritance as we remember her amazing journey both politically and socially.