I would appreciate if you allow me space in your good newspaper to give tribute to one of Namibia’s brave fighters, the late Tobias Hainyeko.
Tobias Hainyeko was born in northern Namibia in 1932. In the early 1950s, he moved to Cape Town, South Africa, and was employed there. During his time in Cape Town he met other Namibians such as Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Fanuel Kozonguizi, Jacob Kuhangua, Andreas Shipanga, Solomon Mifima, Peter Mweshihange and others. Together with these progressively minded Namibians, Hainyeko spent valuable years in Cape Town, sharing political experiences and work. Most of the Namibians in this group were either members or sympathizers of the forerunner of SWAPO, the OPC.
Hainyeko returned to Namibia, but left the country again in the early 1960s and went to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. In Tanzania, he joined the group of SWAPO leaders like Sam Nujoma, Jacob Kuhangua and others. He was one of the first SWAPO members to volunteer for military training.
During training in the Soviet Union, Hainyeko proved himself to be not only a skilful and courageous fighter, but also a man of tremendous courage and leadership qualities. He returned to East Africa to help set up a military training centre for PLAN fighters.
It was from there that Hainyeko brought all trained cadres together and moved to establish the first guerrilla force for the struggle for the liberation of our motherland, Namibia.
In 1965, through careful planning under Comrade Hainyeko, SWAPO established a military base at Omugulugwombashe in Uukwaluudhi Omusati Region, as well as military training centres within the country. It was from the Omugulugwombashe base that SWAPO guerrillas launched its armed struggle against the South African occupation regime on 26 August 1966.
Hainyeko was killed while on combat mission as he was intending to cross the Kwando River, which spans part of the Namibian-Zambian border. He wanted to improve communications between his operational headquarters in Tanzania and SWAPO’s guerrilla units in Namibia.
Hainyeko went to meet a colleague from Namibia at Sesheke, which straddles the Nam-Zambian border. SWAPO reported that he was betrayed to the South Africans by the local Manager of Caltex, who ran barges along the Zambezi from Katima Mulilo. Some information indicated that he was betrayed by some SWAPO leaders because they were afraid of him because of his good leadership qualities and his bravery.
On May 18 1967, he shot and killed two enemy soldiers patrolling the river and wounded two others before he met his death in action. The news of Hainyeko’s death only reached SWAPO’s provisional headquarters in Dar-es-Salaam two days later.
Tobias Hainyeko is remembered as a brave fighter and a hero of the liberation struggle, who gave his life for his country. He was the first Commander of SWALA (later PLAN) SWAPO military wing. He was buried near the leper colony, some distance from the Catholic mission. Hainyeko will also be remembered by the future generation.
Hainyeko died in combat like Mandume ya Ndemufayo and Dr. Savimbi of UNITA. I want also to use this opportunity to salute the following heroes, those who sacrificed their lives in the liberation struggle of our motherland:
Tashiya Nakada, Helao Nafidi, Salomon Mifima, Bredan Simbwaye, Isack Nehale Pondo, Peter Nanyemba, Greenwell Matongo, Jonas Haiduwa, Immanuel Shifidi, Tauno Hatuikulipi etc.
Tobias Hainyeko is a Namibian hero and I compare him with Patrice Lumumba and Che Guevara. He is a true hero not like the so-called heroes we celebrate in this country today. Hainyeko’s last words when he left Dar-es-Salaam were: ” I will never surrender to an enemy. It is either him or me.”
Rest in peace Comrade Hainyeko and I salute you!!!
Ananias Aipinge Kaseven