By Petronella Sibeene
All roads led to Auasblick on Friday morning as hundreds of Namibians flocked to witness the inauguration of the country’s new State House.
According to the programme of events, on March 21, 2008, at exactly 06h30, gates to the new State House premises would open and the event that would mark the inauguration ceremony of the national symbol would begin with cultural dances.
And so it was on Friday.
Invited guests started arriving as early as 07h00. While waiting for the official programme to start at 10h00, the waiting period marked the time for engaging in socializing and some acclimatizing gossip or small talk.
According to the schedule, the public was to arrive before invited guests.
Those invited included members of the diplomatic corps, the Service Chiefs, Members of Parliament, Chief Justice and spouse and Chairman of the National Council and spouse, Speaker of the National Assembly and spouse, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister and their spouses, among others. There were actually 500 invited guests on the list.
Before the official programme started, the entire audience had worked itself into a state of cultural spirit and enthusiasm for putting their unique footprints on the soil where the country’s state symbol stands magnificently.
Close to three hours before the arrival of the Presidents, various cultural groups of Namibia showcased the colour, gaiety and enthusiasm that characterize Namibian festivals through cultural dances.
The performances left the crowd especially those from as far as Cuba and Korea inspired, elated, and gratified by the nobility of what Namibians in their cultural diversity could do.
“Brilliant! Amazing! Wow!” were some of the adjectives those who watched in complete amazement spoke out as different cultural groups, namely, the Kavango cultural group, Unam Choir, Upembe, the Red Flag, Meropa, Swapo Pioneer Group, the Ovahimba and Ndilimani, etc., spiced up the ceremony.
Right in the middle of a performance by a San group demonstrating their way of life, the parade marched on. As the conductor led the band in impeccable style, the crowd diverted their attention from the cultural group to the uniformed men and women in a dizzying display of colour – red and navy blue, camouflaged, light blue shirts, navy blue trousers, and pure white –
all representing different soldierly specializations.
By 09h30, the Director of Ceremonies Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila had announced the arrival of Founding President Sam Nujoma in the company of the country’s first First Lady Kovambo Nujoma.
All people rose to their feet as Ndilimani performed the famous Sema Ulipeni. While Prime Minister Nahas Angula and other top leaders welcomed him, the crowd joined Ndilimani waving the national flag in the air while those without showed the ruling party’s symbol mannekie (fist in the air).
It was not long again before the guest of honour President of the Presidium of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (PDRK) Kim Yong Nam arrived.
Shielded by security guards in black, the crowd welcomed him as they ululated and waved the Namibian and PDRK flags in the air.
Within a time space of about 20 minutes, the director of ceremonies requested the crowd to stand up as President Hifikepunye Pohamba and First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba arrived.
The mounting of the dais by President Pohamba marked the beginning of the official programme.
The Namibian and African Union anthems were performed, after which President Pohamba inspected the parade.
Upon returning to the dais and with every person standing, a march past was conducted as the crowd watched the stunning display.
After guests took their seats, DPRK President of the Presidium Nam poured praises on the country as a whole for its achievements.
He in particular congratulated the Namibian leaders for continued stability and prevailing peace in the country and also for the construction of such a modern State House.
Delivering the keynote address immediately after President Nam, President Pohamba congratulated those who were involved in the massive project for their determination, imagination, originality and invaluable time spent.
The conferment of honours followed, after which colourful balloons were released in the air as President Hifikepunye Pohamba unveiled the plaque and cut the ribbon.
It was officially inaugurated and it was a one-of-a-kind State event.
“It (State House) is beautiful. I have never seen anything like this, a good project worth ventured,” commented Ignatius Nambondi, a witness at the inauguration ceremony.
Testimonies from those that attended further showed that the inauguration of the new State House made Friday a wonderful day, an event of marvels to any observer.
“It was well organised. It actually showed that as Namibians we can stand together and come up with projects that can make all of us proud. Those who built it, their efforts are undoubtedly hugely rewarded,” commented Paulina Shidhudhu.
Just like any other celebratory event, the inauguration ended with “something to bite”.