We’ve Inherited Sacred Duty – Amathila

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By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK Namibians have a historic responsibility to ensure the country forever remains sovereign, independent and united, free from the onslaught of tribalism, ethnicity and civil strife. Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila made the call for unity when addressing the annual Red Flag Day at Okahandja – part of the weekend’s Heroes’ Day commemorations. “We must eagerly guard against tendencies that diminish the efforts for a strong and united nation, and we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a purpose to fight poverty and underdevelopment,” she urged. Many hundreds of Namibians attended the Red Flag commemoration, with a large number of tourists also seen among the crowds. While some tourists knew about the event in advance, others were attracted by the colourful processions and decided to spontaneously follow the large number of people. This year’s event was as usual marked by marches and drills by members of the Otjiserandu (Red Flag) organisation, accompanied by riders on horseback and women in their eye-catching bright scarlet Ovaherero dresses. Red Flag Day has been held annually to commemorate August 26, 1923 when the remains of the Ovaherero Chief and wartime commander Samuel Maharero were repatriated from South Africa for reburial at Okahandja. The day has come to symbolise the rebirth of the Ovaherero people after they were almost annihilated as a people in the 1904 war against colonial Germany, and is used to pay tribute to the heroes of their past. The Namibian government declared August 26 a national holiday soon after independence in 1990 to commemorate all the country’s heroes and heroines each year. Speaking at the event, Amathila said Heroes’ Day is a remembrance of the selfless contributions by the heroes and heroines who spearheaded the liberation struggle and gave their lives for our freedom. They shed their blood at various battles such as the Battle of Ohamakari, Omugulugwombashe and many other battles inside and outside Namibia. They endured the agony of imprisonment, torture, degrading treatment and a difficult life inside the country as well as in exile for freedom and national independence. “The bravery we inherited from our forefathers and mothers is demonstrated by the uncompromising spirit with which all the Namibian people, throughout the country, confronted the apartheid South African regime despite the threats of torture, imprisonment, detention without trial and wholesale massacres of our people,” she noted. Namibians inherited the sacred and historic duty to attain independence from their forefathers and mothers who bravely led the anti-colonial resistance. They include leaders such as Hendrik Witbooi, Samuel Maharero, Hosea Kutako, Nicodemus Kahimemua, Mandume ya Ndemufayo, Jacob Marengo, Nehale Lya Mpingana and Kakurukaze Mungunda. “Now we owe it to the martyrs of our revolution to remain united and create a strong democratic society for which they have paid with their lives,” Amathila stated. Namibia as a nation needs to remind itself of the long road that still lies ahead towards improving the living standards of its people. “Let us preserve peace, security and stability in our country; let us reject discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, gender, religion and race. “Let us be inclusive and accommodate previously disadvantaged and marginalised members of our society, particularly the San community, and let us become more united as a nation than ever before,” she pleaded. The Deputy Prime Minister re-emphasised the government’s commitment to continue providing public goods and essential services equally to all Namibians throughout the country. She supported a call made by Chief Alfons Kaihepovazandu Maharero and Deputy Mayor of Okahandja, Helena Tonata Shipena, for the national Heroes’ Day commemoration to be held in Okahandja. The main Heroes’ Day commemoration is held in a different region each year. Amathila felt it would be fitting for the event to be held in Okahandja where many heroes from the country’s past are buried. She also called on the National Monuments Council and other bodies to better look after the graves at Okahandja. The graves of important figures such as Samuel Maharero, Hosea Kutako and Jonker Afrikaner are not Ovaherero monuments, but national monuments, she told the gathering.