I would like to salute all Namibians on the commemoration of one of our historical day in the Republic of Namibia under the dynamic leadership of our President, His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba.
On August 26, 2007 we are going to remember what happened at Omugulugoombashe exactly 41 years ago. This was the continuation of the arm struggle that was commenced by our forefathers against the German colonizers.
The wind of change was sweeping unendingly across the African continent and Namibia was no exception. By the middle of the 1960s, SWAPO had become the main political force fighting for the rights and interests of the Namibian people.
Many Namibians from all communities had joined SWAPO. They all believed in Namibia as one nation. So SWAPO was able to begin a new stage of the struggle for Namibia’s independence.
By then it had become clear to many Namibians that they could not expect Namibia’s independence to come from Pretoria. They therefore had to make an important decision. Should they submit to permanent oppression? Or should they fight for freedom?
Namibians refused to surrender. They had examples in Namibian history to follow. Two of Namibia’s most respected traditional leaders had also refused to surrender.
Chief Samuel Maharero, when he was fighting the Germans, had written to Hendrik Witbooi: “Take up arms and let all Africa fight against the Germans, let us rather die than stay like dead people as a result of maltreatment, imprisonment and all the other ways.”
Chief Mandume had told his soldiers that “slavery and death are one and the same thing”. So SWAPO decided to launch the armed liberation struggle, fully aware of the difficulties ahead (Namibia in History, 1988).
The Hendrik Witboois, the Mahareros, Ipumbu ya Shilongo, Mandume Ndemufayo, Nehale lya Mpingana and Jacob Murenga and many others were the first guerrillas to fight against the oppressors of their time and left it to the next generation to continue the struggle against the oppressors of our century which was the then South African regime.
The first guerrilla fighters were trained in Egypt. Before that, Comrade Dr Sam Nujoma, the President of SWAPO, had travelled throughout Africa. He found friends for the Namibian struggle for liberation, especially in Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.
In the early 1960s, these were two of the most outstanding African leaders. They supported the Namibian cause. At that time, the countries around Namibia were still colonies or were just getting their independence. So they were still too weak to help much.
The birth of the new nation and the freedom and independence that we are enjoying today came about when men like Patrick Lunganda Iyambo, Eliazer Tuhandeleni Kahumba Kandola, Isack Shoombe, Lameck Iithete, Sakeus Fillipus, Adam Kapolo, John Nankudhu and many others became the first guerrilla fighters to engage in the struggle against the then South African forces. That is how the struggle for the total liberation of our motherland commenced in Namibia.
After the battle of Omugulugoombashe, the SWAPO fighters decided to form smaller units that were scattered across the country.
Since 1974 thousands and thousands of Namibians including myself left the country and joined the armed struggle, which intensified until victory was certain.
From the start, SWAPO fighters depended on the active support of the people. These local people were their eyes and ears.
They helped the SWAPO fighters. And the SWAPO fighters helped the local people. Their task was not only military, but also political and social.
They helped with services such as medical assistance and provided political information – up until March 21, 1990 when Namibia got its independence, as a memorial to our fallen heroes and heroines whose blood waters our freedom.
As a symbol of recognition, our Government erected a Heroes Acre in Windhoek in respect of all our fallen heroes, e.g. Witbooi, Mandume, Nehale, Marenga, Ipumbu, Mungunda and many more, in order to keep our young generation and the public in general informed about the history and in particular the struggle for our motherland.
After independence, as we all know, our Government is trying hard to satisfy the ever-growing needs and aspirations of the Namibian people. There is a need to prioritise and first pay attention to the selected infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, clinics, roads, clean water, electricity, housing, communication and the railway line.
The Government’s request is for us the community members who are the end-users, especially to watch and guard jealously and to appreciate the many demands being made on the Government budget.
The other issue I would like to touch on in our independent Republic is concerning our youth. The youth are the leaders of tomorrow and without them we don’t have a nation. So my advice to the youth now is to study very hard so that you can be the ones to administer the affairs of our country and nation tomorrow.
Our country is in dire need of scientists, engineers and doctors, etc. You must go for challenging subjects like mathematics and science. Remember that the world today is technocratic and without your pursuing the technical fields you and the country will be left out.
The demand for a well-qualified and well technically skilled workforce is a priority. The ball is in your court, you the youth, to face the challenges that are set forth. It is for you to consider very seriously the time factor and what you want to reach in life for your own benefit and for our country and nation at large.
You are our future