Beautiful Town Turns 100

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By Mbatjiua Ngavirue OTJIWARONGO Otjiwarongo celebrated its 100 years of existence as a municipality on Friday with great festivity that started early in the morning and continued right into the night. The day started with a procession by residents of the town, together with detachments of the Namibian Defence Force and Police, to Mokati Stadium in Orwetoveni – the main venue for the celebrations. The large crowd gathered at the stadium was entertained by performances from a variety of cultural and popular music groups throughout the day, and were addressed by invited dignitaries. Speaking at the event, Mayor of Otjiwarongo Otto Ipinge sketched the history of the town, pointing out that people had settled in Otjiwarongo long before it became a municipality. Mine developers in the Tsumeb area identified it as a potential link for shipping purposes to the coastal areas and other parts of the country. The Herero people who were among the early settlers called it Otjiuarongo, which means beautiful place. But exactly 100 years ago in 1906, the settlement gained its new face as a town – with the establishment of a railway, police station and post office – becoming known as what is present-day Otjiwarongo. Ipinge said Otjiwarongo is privileged to have such a memorable and strong history that serves as a foundation to bring together its diverse ethnic communities. He described Otjiwarongo, which is also the capital of the Otjozondjupa Region, as a central connecting point to the north, central and west of Namibia. “Our local authority tries to capitalise on this strategic location by committing ourselves to build an integrated, safe, healthy and prosperous town with effective service delivery,” he said. Tourism and agriculture, and more especially farming, are the main pillars of the local economy along with mining. Ipinge said Otjiwarongo is fortunate to have deposits of important minerals used in cement manufacturing, graphite, gold and fluorspar. The Okorusu fluorspar mine is active just outside the town, a new cement factory is going to open while there are also prospects for a new graphite mine in the future. He said to boost its strategic location, Otjiwarongo is investing in improving infrastructure within the town – especially core aspects such as the transport network and socio-economic development. The town is investing in improving roads in the town as well as adding to the beautification of the Trans-Caprivi Highway, which passes through the town. Otjiwarongo has a population of 30 000 people, with growth rate of 3.5% faced with the challenge of an influx of people from rural areas in search of a better life. Ipinge said that to cover the needs of these people the municipality has embarked on a process to formalise informal settlements through various means. This includes making use of government’s Build Together Programme, the Shack Dwellers Federation and the Clay House Project. The special guest of honour at the event was Minister of War Veterans Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, representing President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Other important guests were the Mayor of Heusden, Otjiwarongo’s twin city in the Netherlands, Henk Willems, and his Chief Executive Bert Janssen. To mark the occasion, Nampost CEO Sakaria Nghikembua unveiled a special edition stamp the post office is releasing to commemorate the centenary of the town. The stamp depicts a cheetah together with a commemorative icon to highlight the town’s status as the cheetah capital of the world. Mayor of Heusden, Henk Willems, presented the town of Otjiwarongo with a command vehicle for its fire brigade, officially handing the keys over to his counterpart mayor Ipinge. The town also announced the naming of four new streets after prominent businessman Dr Frans Oupa Indongo, late Swapo activist Getrude Rikumbi Kandanga and Henk Willems and Bert Janssen of Heusden in the Netherlands.