Pohamba Pays Tribute to Church

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By William J. Mbangula ODIBO – President Hifike-punye Pohamba has paid tribute to the Anglican Church as one of the dependable partners in the fight for peace, democracy, national independence and progress. He was speaking at the ordination of Anglican Bishop Na-thaniel Ndaxuma Nakwatumba on Sunday. While commending the leadership of the Anglican Church for their tremendous contribution to the wellbeing of the Namibian people before and after independence, the Head of State urged other civic organi-sations to redouble their efforts and work harder to assist vulnerable citizens. They should march together with the Government towards a brighter future, which should be free from poverty, unemployment, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other social evils. “The history of war for national liberation waged by the Namibian people against the South African occupation regime, and indeed the short history of Namibia as a sovereign independent country, cannot be told without recognizing the tremendous contribution and support that the Anglican Church and other churches such as the Lutheran and Catholic churches rendered to the liberation movement, Swapo, then and now as the ruling party,” said Pohamba. The President noted that the church has played a crucial role in the struggle for freedom and it continues to be an important spiritual and social partner in the process of social and economic development in order to improve the living standards of the people. “The Anglican Church in Namibia was one of the first local churches to rally behind and actively support Namibia’s cause for freedom. Under the fearless leadership of Reverend Michael Scott, the church facilitated the preparation of petitions which were delivered at the United Nations by the Herero Chief Hosea Kutako and other leaders of the liberation movement.” The President further paid tribute to Anglican Church Reverend Theofilus Hamutumbangela who courageously confronted the colonial apartheid regime of South Africa, which was dispossessing contract labourers of their meagre possessions at the checkpoint at Onamutoni. “In the same vein, church leaders such as Bishop Collin Winter, Bishop Richard Wood, Vicar General Ed Morrow and Reverend Phillip Shilongo, all of the Anglican Church, as well as Bishop Leonard Auala of ELCIN stood firm in denouncing the oppression of our people by the apartheid regime.” He narrated the ordeal of the Anglican Church and other churches as a brutal onslaught. Particularly targeted, he said, was the Anglican Church’s buildings at Oshandi and Epinga, which were destroyed. Leaders of the Anglican Church were subjected to constant wanton arrests, imprisonment, torture, harassment and deportations. The late Reverend Olavi Nailenge lost his life in a car accident stage-managed by the apartheid colonial forces. “Now that freedom has been achieved, we must continue with the same dedication to address the evils of poverty, hunger and under-development that continue to stalk our people. We should also continue to encourage and support the pro-active role that the church has played over the years by providing education, health services and spiritual care to our people. Here at St Mary’s Mission at Odibo many current Namibian church, political and business leaders received their primary education.” He cited himself as one of the recipients of the church-funded education when he was attending primary school at the Holy Cross Mission School at Onamunama. “I will always be grateful for that,” the President stressed. He also welcomed the involvement of the civil institutions in the process of development as good for democratic governance. “We believe that the civic culture is conducive to a stable democratic order because it fosters responsive actions from the government vis-ÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚ -vis the public and demands of our citizens. It is for this reason that there is hardly any policy of Government in which the role of civil society goes without mention. We believe that development has to be implemented in a bottom-up approach that fosters and promotes active participation of citizens and their organisations including the churches.” As a way to democratise development, the President called upon the churches and other civic organisations to join Government in an effort to speed up the implementation of National Development Plan 11 and Vision 2030. In his view the socio-economic partnership between the Government, the churches and other civic organisations should be strengthened and broadened. Government policies and strategies need the support of all citizens. “Within the context of Vision 2030, the role of civic society is fully recognised. In fact, Vision 2030 incorporates a sub-section dedicated specifically to the civil society and its organisations. This includes the church and its role in the implementation of the vision, accompanied by specific duties and responsibilities,” he explained. Many church leaders witnessed the occasion of ordination from near and far. Amongst them were the Anglican envoy from Cape Town Bishop Bet-hlehem Nopece, Elcin Bishop Thomas Shivute from Oniipa, Elcin Bishop Johannes Sindano from Rundu, Catholic Archbishop Liborius Nashenda and CCN General Secretary Phillip Strydom, from Windhoek. On behalf of the Namibian Government, apart from the Head of State, the occasion was also graced by the presence of the Minister of Defence Charles Namholo, Minister of Safety and Security Peter Tsheehama, the Governor of Ohangwena Usko Nghaamwa, members of parliament, regional and local councillors.