By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK AFTER observing a minute of silence in commemorating International Human Rights Day/Women’s Day on Saturday, President Hifikepunye Pohamba urged the nation to jealously guard their hard won independence and work towards nation building. He also appealed to the nation to work towards the socio-economic development of the country and most importantly towards national reconciliation. With the latest revelations of several mass graves excavated in the north of the country, the President said his main preoccupation was for those heroes and heroines who died for the liberation of the country to get the decent burial they deserve. “I wish to caution all our citizens to be sensitive to the unfortunate fate of our people and not open wounds that have taken so long to heal,” said the President. He also made another appeal to Namibians and to South Africans who may possess information on the mass graves to come forward so that this sad chapter in the country’s independence struggle can be closed. Since the mass graves were discovered, the Government has stressed its commitment to ensure that “all the remains of the heroes and heroines should be recovered and buried in dignity in honour of their bravery, dedication and commitment”. At the Old Location Cemetery in Pionierspark, hundreds of people among them Swapo cadres dressed in the party’s blue, red and green colours attended the International Human Rights Day commemoration on Saturday in remembrance of those Namibians who died on the fateful day of December 10, 1959. Pohamba was accompanied by the Founding Father of the Nation Dr Sam Nujoma. History tells us that it was on this day that colonial South African authorities brutally massacred 12 peaceful Namibians and wounded more than 50 in an attempt to force the people from the Old Location to Katutura, built on the basis of apartheid. The day has also been designated Namibian Women’s Day, also to honour courageous and fearless women like Kakurukaze Mungunda who were among those brutally gunned down by the apartheid forces. The president said the heroic contributions made by women on that day in 1959 showed their “patriotism, vigour and determination to participate actively in all facets of the struggle, including military struggle”. The Head of State expressed concern over the low level of women representation on the lists of candidates of political parties, adding that “we must work harder to reverse this trend” since women are also part and parcel of contributing positively towards socio-economic development. “It is now time for women to take their rightful place in society as leaders and decision-makers at all levels,” he added. At the same event, calls were made for all Namibians to work harder as a nation, as this will help keep the flames burning of those people who sacrificed their lives in the bitter struggle for the country’s independence. “Our people were massacred in cold blood and therefore the Old Location massacre heightened the political awareness amongst our people and that must be remembered,” said the Governor of the Khomas Regional Council Sophia Shaningwa. The President who apart from Nujoma was also accompanied by First Lady Penehupifo, marked the end of the commemoration with the laying of a wreath on the gravestone with the inscription: “In memory of our heroes and heroines of December 10, 1959 – Martyrs of the Namibian revolution”. Sounds from the Military Brass Band with singing from the Hare Hoado Choir complemented the solemn mood as Namibians honoured and remembered those people who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the country.
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