Grand Old Lady Uukongo Laid to Rest

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By William J. Mbangula Onyaanya President Hifikepunye Pohamba has hailed the mother of Prime Minister Nahas Angula as one of the country’s outstanding community leaders. The President was speaking on Saturday at the funeral of the late Akwenye Ali Gabriel Uukongo at Onyaanya Elcin Church, where he urged the nation to emulate her good work in the community. The late Uukongo, who died at the age of 102 at Onandjokwe Hospital after undergoing an operation on January 20, was the great granddaughter of King Shikongo ShaKalulu, who ruled Ondonga District until 1874. ShaKalulu was one of the prominent kings of Ondonga who permitted missionaries to operate in the area. In his welcoming remarks to mourners, Prime Minister Nahas Angula, the fifth-born in a family of nine children, said the occasion was being held to confirm and affirm that one of the oldest members of Onyaanya congregation is no more. As a result, her absence has left a vacuum, an emptiness and a nothingness. “Her footsteps have vanished. Her voice is permanently silent. Her usual sharp eyes are closed, her departure signals a permanent separation and disconnection. Such a condition creates sorrow, hopelessness and despair.” But, despite all that has happened, said the Prime Minister, her gift of life to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren affirms the presence of her looming shadow. Her teachings, through example, have moulded the characters of her children. Noted the Prime Minister: “She taught us hard work, honesty, fairness and truthfulness. She taught us to earn what we own. She taught us never to steal. She taught us to be just and to do to others what we expect them to do to us. She taught us to respect the truth and shun deception.” He added that such qualities of her teachings lift them from sorrow and sadness, and transform the family into a state of gratitude and celebration for the gift of life she gave to her children. Among the messages of condolence received was one from the Father of the Namibian Nation and President of Swapo, Dr Sam Nujoma, who also praised her for her work of bravery during the liberation struggle and for being the custodian of cultural values and traditional norms. The late Uukongo, better known as Kandapokanene, who is survived by six of her nine children, was praised for her dedication towards the liberation of Namibia. Being one of the mothers in the country who had children in exile – in her case she had four of them – she was well-known for her interaction with and assistance to freedom-fighters in the village. As a result, she also became a victim of torture and brutality at the hands of the South African colonial troops. One classic example took place in 1985 when one of her sons, John Angula, was captured by the colonial troops in battle and brought home. John, one of the three children who have since passed away, died in 2003. The funeral service was attended by, amongst others, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila, Speaker of the National Assembly Theo-Ben Gurirab, cabinet ministers, members of parliament, regional and local authorities, councillors, church and traditional leaders.