By John Ekongo
WINDHOEK – Former youth activists and students from the turbulent class of 1988 on Saturday relived history when they marched from the Immanuel Shifidi High School in Katutura to the Katutura Youth Complex.
Under the auspices of the Namibia National Student Organisation (Nanso), the learners and the youth leaders marched through the streets of Katutura bringing traffic to a halt in this high-density suburb.
The march formed part of the commemoration events in celebration of the largest school boycott ever before Namibia’s Independence.
During the month of June 1988, around 75 000 school learners protested against the presence of military bases near schools, following the death of a young learner at the Ponhofi Secondary School, who was caught in the crossfire of a battle between South African counter-insurgency forces and the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (Plan) Swapo’s military wing then.
As a sign of solidarity and support, the trade unions under the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), called for a three-day national stay-away in June 1988, to lend support to the students’ demands, resulting in 60 000 workers nationally not reporting for duty. Despite open intimidation and police harassment, the stay-away was a huge success and showed the determination of students, workers and the community to stand up against the apartheid colonial authorities.
During and after the boycott, most of the activists were identified by the ruling authorities as instigators and left the country to join Plan in exile.
The school boycott lasted for a year.
Learners from various high schools in Windhoek attended the event, where they were addressed by Swapo Member of Parliament Chief Ankama on behalf of the Founding Father and Former President Dr Sam Nujoma.
The former head of state reiterated the call that the youth are the future leaders of the country and as such should play a pivotal role in working towards the development of Namibia.
“We should therefore rededicate our energies to issues of national importance and devise innovative strategies that will add more impetus to the socio-economic development of our country,” said Nujoma.
He added: “The youth and students of today must take a vow to defend our hard won freedom and independence and to ensure that the continent of Africa is forever free and will never be re-colonised again.”