A Great Son of Small Stature

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By Peya Mushelenga (MP) On 27 February 2006, Namibia was robbed of one of its promising young political activists, Collin Kamehozu. This man had impressive credentials. The historical realities that prevailed over Namibia moulded Collin into a dynamic and unwavering patriot. He made his debut in the political arena and, thus, publicity when he joined the students’ struggle against the apartheid South African regime, then coordinated by the Namibian National Students Organisation (NANSO). The prestigious Martin Luther High School (MLH), which he attended, was the centre of political activities. Collin Kamehozu was, collectively, together with many other learners and students of the time, a thorn in the flesh of the colonial administration and its collaborators. I have vivid memories of the rhythms of student politics in which we were brought up, which made Collin an icon that he was. It was through students politics that I got to know Collin and grew to admire his revolutionary standing. He rose through the ranks of the student movement, eventually becoming the secretary-general of NANSO, some years after independence. In that position he continued to champion the cause of the Namibian learners and students, striving for a just education system and balanced academic standards throughout the country. He was a reliable comrade and trusted cadre. I am paying tribute to a freedom fighter. The students’ front provided an essential flavour and substance to the general liberation struggle for an independent Namibia. NANSO, where Collin was a distinguished activist, mobilised thousands of learners and students to join the liberation movement, SWAPO, in exile, thus swelling the ranks of the People’s Liberation army of Namibia (PLAN). The rest is history. Collin was a brave and fearless activist. The South African apartheid regime was determined to curb popular resistances, even if it means eliminating progressive political leaders and activists. Collin was, therefore, fully aware of the dangerous consequences that he could face as a result of his involvement in mass political revolts. Accordingly, in 1988 he was arrested and jailed by the colonial authorities because of his involvement in politics. It was his passion for independence and genuine patriotism that kept him resolute and steadfast. I am paying tribute to a great man, who was greater than life. Although Collin was relatively small in stature, he was a person of great mind. Generally speaking, he took things simple, but when he took his duties seriously, he demonstrated his talents as a person full of useful ideas. He was a philosopher and strategist who enriched deliberations, policies and documents of numerous institutions which he served selflessly, notably among them, NANSO and the SWAPO Party Youth League. He had read widely books and papers on politics, which shaped his thoughts and nurtured him into a mature politician. He got political inclinations from the writings of Karl Marx. Collin was, therefore, a Marxist-Leninist. Although his immortal remains will be surrendered to the soil, his legacy shall continue to prevail and guide his peers and political associates. In death, he remains a living person, as he continues to be quoted and be celebrated as a hero. His ground- breaking statements are a treasure that we should preserve. Collin had an interesting sense of humour. He could bring cheerfulness to an anxious and stressful atmosphere. He knew how to behave and what to say to bring laughter and amusement during troubled and problematic conventions, both formal and informal. Of all the time that we had known each other, I cherish more the time when, while we were at university, we travelled together and stayed with my family in northern Namibia. It is worth mentioning that, although Collin was a first-class politician, he was not necessarily the jack-of-all-trades. He was not gifted in all areas. For example, he lacked kitchen handiness. It was not for him to cut carrots, pumpkins and cabbages. Forget about Collin spicing steaks and chops or roasting marinated pork ribs. I am paying tribute to an easy-going person. It is important to mention that Collin liked socialising. But, at home he would not turn on a tape or CD player. Although not necessarily a music fan, he had a particular dancing style that electrified the chemistry in his body and drove him to real fun and eye-catching party moods. It is equally worth mentioning that during pure social gatherings, Collin would often cause a little controversy by provoking political debates from nowhere. I must, however, quickly point out that this was never done with malicious intent. He genuinely believed that politics should be discussed in a broader spectrum of people’s lifestyles. I respect and salute him for his passion thereof. I am paying tribute to a diplomat, an international who travelled around the globe. Collin rubbed shoulders with the international who’s who. He was a students’ envoy to a number of international fora, which exposed him to the art of diplomacy. It afforded him an opportunity to get a clear perspective about world politics. This was further boosted when he became exposed to academic discourse on the same subject matter at university. Appropriately, he grew to become a skilful negotiator and an accomplished tactician. He did not surrender, when negotiating on something, especially when the interests of learners and students were at stake. I admired his eloquence in articulating a given position which he was convinced about. He used mind-stimulating catchphrases, easily winning the hearts of his listeners and completely disarming his opponents. Collin leaves an empty space in the pasture of the Namibian political landscape. His colleagues and comrades, particularly in NANSO and the SWAPO Party Youth League, will miss his presence in their midst. His vibrant voice shall linger in the ears of his compatriots. A great person of small stature is no more. I would like to finally address him by saying: You have effectively used the cream of your lifetime to the best. The illustrious son of the soil that you were, you have proudly earned yourself a place in the enviable pages of the Namibian history. You rose to the call, when the occasion demanded that you should diligently attend to the plight of your distressed nation. Comrade, yours was a life full of decisiveness and optimism. You extended your hand to those who needed it, strangers and acquaintances alike. You were the embodiment of commitment, duty and voluntarism. I shall continue to cherish our numerous encounters, all of which brings me fond memories. Rest in Peace brother, comrade and friend. Aluta Continua!