22 Jun 2011 - Story by Nampa
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WINDHOEK â€" John Ya Otto Nankudhu, one of the first commanders of the Swapo-Party armed wing, is no more. He was 78.
Nankudhu, who was also the councillor of the Samora Machel Constituency in the Khomas Region, passed away in the early hours of yesterday at his residence in the Wanaheda residential area in the capital. Nankudhu reportedly collapsed and died while coming from the bathroom at his house in Tugela Street.
Barnabas 'Mannetjie' Paulus, a relative and close friend of the Swapo-Party veteran politician, confirmed the death to Nampa yesterday.
He said an autopsy was being conducted to determine the exact cause of death of the political icon. Nankudhu joined the Ovambo People's Organisation (OPO) in 1958, and in 1968 was elected chairman of the OPO in Oranjemund. OPO was the forerunner to Swapo.
When Swapo was formed in 1960, he retained his position.
He went into exile in the same year (1960), and in 1961 he went for military training in Egypt, where he completed training in 1963.
Late in 1963, he went to the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), where he attended a military academy.
He completed that training the following year.
Nankudhu was amongst those who started a training camp in Kongwa, Tanzania in 1964, where he trained many people, some of whom are now deceased.
While in Tanzania, it was later decided by the Swapo-Party leadership to send Nankudhu to Namibia.
He and six other liberators travelled for about six months to get to Namibia.
Upon arrival in Namibia, he had to fulfil the task for which he was appointed, which was to train young Namibians 'politically and militarily'.
Nankudhu together with other People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) commanders then set up camps at Omugulugwambashe in the Uukolonkadhi tribal district, where they trained about 92 new soldiers at the time.
On 26 August 1966, the then South African apartheid colonial forces attacked these camps.
In November 1966, Nankudhu was captured and sent to Pretoria, South Africa with others, and in 1968, he was sentenced to 20 years on Robben Island.
He was released in early January 1986.
After his release, Nankudhu remained an active man in the country and held many positions, which included, the position of chairman of the Central Region of the Swapo-Party, which comprised of Windhoek, Okahandja and surrounding areas.
In 1992, Nankudhu was elected the regional councillor for the Wanaheda (now Samora Machel) Constituency.
He was born on 24 June 1933 in northern Namibia, and was married to Jakobina Nankudhu.
They have five children.
Funeral arrangements will be made public in due course.