Don’t Scrap Cassinga Day – Deputy Premier

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila outrightly dismissed some public sentiments that Namibian holidays, including Cassinga Day, should be scrapped because there are too many holidays, arguing that the country’s independence came at a very high price. Addressing hundreds of Namibians at the UN Plaza in Katutura on Cassinga Day on Friday, Amathila stressed that each and every citizen must never forget that the independence that they have enjoyed for the past 17 years was won the hard way by those who died in the war of liberation. “We will not allow their sacrifices to be forgotten or be reduced to insignificancy and we will not reduce holidays. We value our freedom and we value the contribution made by our fallen heroes and heroines,” said Amathila. The latest sentiment by the Deputy Premier, who was addressing the crowd on behalf of President Hifikepunye Pohamba, comes in light of some suggestions from various quarters in the country that there are too many holidays. It is being suggested that these holidays be scrapped, including Cassinga Day. However, Amathila was quick to dismiss these suggestions. “I wish to use this opportunity to dispel those suggestions with the contempt they deserve and I want to remind those persons making these suggestions that the blood of the victims of Cassinga as well as other victims of the liberation war, waters our freedom!” The significance of Cassinga Day dates back to 29 years ago, on May 4, 1978, when thousands of innocent Namibian civilians were brutally attacked and hundreds killed by the South African apartheid military forces at Cassinga, a Swapo refugee camp in southern Angola. The commemoration on Friday was graced by the presence of the Founding Father of the Nation Dr Sam Nujoma. Amathila noted that the hard-won independence and sacrifices made should not be taken for granted, but rather respected through hard work. “As people, we must always be mindful that the virtues of peace, tranquillity and political and social stability are building foundations for a prosperous and strong nation. We must never take these virtues for granted,” said Amathila. Cassinga Day should be seen as a day of reflection on the country’s historical journey to freedom and for looking at the way ahead in addressing the daunting challenges of poverty, unemployment and social disparities. “It is about reminding ourselves, individually and collectively, about the challenges we still need to address and to re-awaken our sense of national consciousness and dignity,” she said. In respect of the heroes and heroines who died at Cassinga, government has already done its part in collecting the soil from the mass graves in southern Angola and placing it at Heroes Acre in the capital. Steps are also under way to construct a monument at the mass gravesite at Cassinga, in memory of those who died for the liberation of the country. Earlier that day, Amathila laid a wreath in honour of the Cassinga heroes and heroines at Heroes Acre. Speaking on behalf of the group of close to 20 Cassinga survivors present at the commemoration, Councillor Agnes Kafula said the 4th of May was a very sad day in the history of the country. “This was a barbaric act of cowardice by the South African apartheid regime … Although our wounds are healed, the scars remain and the pain and anguish that we have gone through 29 years ago is still fresh in our minds,” said Kafula. She added that as Cassinga survivors, the spirit of those who sacrificed their lives in the liberation struggle such as at Cassinga would not rest until their remains are brought back home. “Therefore, we urge our government to take the initiative to bring back the remains of those comrades who perished in the liberation struggle so that they get a proper burial,” said Kafula, adding that plans are under way to set up a Cassinga Trust. The commemoration ended with music from well-known musicians Ras Sheehama and Di-Naff.