Tribute to Mosé Penaani Tjitendero

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By Prof. Peter H. Katjavivi I stand here to join you in paying tribute to the life of Dr MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© Penaani Tjitendero. I share a particularly close relationship with MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚©. Both of us hail from the Ovitoto community. He is a family member; our parents were close when they were alive; we grew up together in Ovitoto and started our early education about the same time, but at different schools. He went to primary school in Onduezongange in 1954. MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚©’s early teachers were Jeremiah Jager, Simon Simon and Festus Tjivikua. However, we were eventually re-united at Augustinuem Training College in Okahandja in early 1960. As most of you know, Augustineum became the meeting place for many of us, young men and women of our generation, from all over the country. The close bond that developed amongst the young men and women of that generation was shaped by the spirit of solidarity that had manifested itself during those years. MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚©, like most of his contemporaries, spent his early childhood in Ovitoto. His parents and my parents used to visit each other. I particularly recall those visits of Uncle Fritz Katjitamuha Zaire, when he and Uncle Andreas Kanjutu Tjitendero would talk for hours and hours! As a child, I remember hearing how Uncle Fritz would turn up at Mose’s home, at Otjozonjati, and later on when the family had moved back to Okomakuara. On such occasions, Mose’s father would remind his wife to prepare a place where both of them could sleep next to each so that they might conduct their discussions during the night. Those discussions were of a political nature, concerning Namibia. This was also a period during which the Lutheran Church was being challenged for its inability to stand up against the Apartheid system. Singing played an important role in the lives of our elders in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The resistance to the South African regime was expressed through various forms. MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© grew up in such an environment and had the opportunity of observing and learning from those developments that were taking place around his neighbourhood and beyond Ovitoto. In this way, our early development, as young men, was shaped by both the political environment that existed in the country at the time, and our family roots. For instance, both Mose’s father, Andreas Kanjutu Tjiten-dero, and my Aunt, Maria Inaazombandi Tjihungu, were religious people and played an active role within the Lutheran church. Both of them were good singers. In this regard, I should say that MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© seemed to have followed in his father’s footsteps, for he too was a good singer. Our political baptism started in the hills, mountains and rivers of Ovitoto and the surrounding areas, commonly known as Ozondondu. These are the commercial farming areas adjacent to Ovitoto. Political agitation and the search for better education propelled MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© to look for a political home. In those early years – the 1960s – prior to the formation of political parties, the political activities were organised around the traditional leaders. Chief Hosea Kutako and his Herero Council were known to be actively involved in petitioning the United Nations. They were joined by other Namibian traditional leaders in search of freedom and independence for Namibia. Soon thereafter, the late 1950s to early 1960s witnessed the formation of early political parties. Both SWANU and SWAPO were established during this period. MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© was one of those young men who joined SWAPO in the early 1960s, together with Ewald Uazu-vara Katjivena, Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, Eslon Kamun-guma, Luther Zaire, Ferdi-nand Meroro, Zebulon Tjon-daura and myself. The steps taken by those young men contributed significantly, at that time, to the development and growth of SWAPO, giving it a national outlook. From Namibia we all went into exile at different times and we found ourselves all over the world. MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© crossed into exile with Luther Zaire and Onesmus Akwenye, across the Kalahari into Botswana and then north all the way to what was then Tanganyika. In exile, together with a community of fellow Namibian exiles, he worked relentlessly for the freedom and independence of our country. During the time he was studying in the USA, during the time he was teaching at the UN Institute for Namibia in Lusaka, Mose’s first focus was always the independence of Namibia. During these years we worked together in the party as comrades. For some of this time I was based in London but when I returned to Lusaka I was based at MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© and Sandy’s house. Their home was my home in Lusaka. So it was for many, many Namibians who found warmth and shelter in the Tjitendero family home. MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© and I kept closely in touch during and after those years of the liberation struggle, every step of the way, as the saying goes. When the new dawn arrived in Namibia and the Nation was born, MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© was soon to preside at the helm of the National Assembly, as its Speaker for the next 15 years. He discharged his duties with absolute dignity and did so much to build parliamentary democracy in Namibia and in the SADC region. He was a widely respected figure throughout the regional and international Parliamentary community. Since the sad news of his untimely death was made known, friends and colleagues at home and abroad have spoken about the terrible loss Namibia and the Southern African region have suffered. MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© was a close friend, a comrade and a brother. He was also an extraordinary personality who always had time for everyone, big or small. Together we were able to concern ourselves in more recent years with our community in Ovitoto. Initially we worked with the late headman David Desire, and later with Chief Vipuira Kapuuo to contribute towards poverty reduction and the development of Ovitoto. Before I arrived here, I had the opportunity of speaking to several colleagues and friends of MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© whose thoughts are with us as we bid farewell to our friend and brother. These friends include the following: The Speaker of the Federal Parliament of Belgium; the Executive Directors and Boards of both the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre based in Harare and the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa based in Johannesburg. On behalf of my wife Jane, our children and family, I wish to extend to Sandy Tjitendero, the children and the entire Tjitendero family, our profound sympathy and condolences. No words can heal the loss you have suffered, but be comforted by the knowledge that the whole nation mourns with you. We will always remember MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© for his contribution to Namibia’s freedom and its subsequent development. We will also carry with us his humanity, his gentleness, and openness. These are his permanent gifts to us. Finally, I wish to thank His Excellency President Poham-ba, for granting Dr MosÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© Tjitendero a State Funeral and for honouring him appropriately with a burial at Heroes Acre. This is indeed an honour for us as part of his generation.