Tribute to Comrade Hatutale Christiaan Hawala

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By Bernadus C. Swartbooi and Henny H. Seibeb

A gallant young man, Cde Chris Hatutale Hawala, parted eternally from this world, in a horrific car accident, on Friday June 27, 2008. He was en route to Ponhofi Secondary School to join the 20th Anniversary celebration of student resistance to apartheid Bantu Education and the concomitant apartheid policies. The Namibia National Student Organisation (NANSO), brave and revolutionary as it was, led this strike, which became one of the epic moments in the acceleration of freedom and independence. Comrade Hawala, typically committed to NANSO as an activist and foot-soldier for Namibian students and youth, died in the line of duty.

Christian Hawala was the most paradoxical of youth cadres: a young politician who shunned the public limelight, extremely and irritatingly humble, conciliatory and gentle, yet a firm mentor and valued adviser to many of his generation.

Comrade Hawala, affectionately also known as ‘Baby NANSO’ or “Damarob”, joined the revolutionary student movement NANSO, at a very tender age and was well ahead of his time. He attended both the Paresis Secondary School in Otjiwarongo and Outjo Secondary School in the little town of Outjo. He attended the 1996 NANSO Congress at UNAM, where he drew attention and admiration, given his age.

We are mourning the loss of Comrade Hawala, who was a pillar of courage, ready to serve the student constituency in different capacities. When he assumed his studies at UNAM, reading for the Bachelor of Economics in 2001, he rose very quickly through the ranks of student leadership within the Student Union. He was a member of both the zealous Pan-African Students Society-PASS and, served once as a Chairperson of The Caucus Political Science Club. Through these platforms he proved his mettle and was elected as a Secretary for Culture and subsequently as a Secretary for Finance for the UNAM SRC.

We refer to Cde Hawala, who was a product of the Namibia National Student Organisation, an organisation of men and women of sterling intellectual leadership qualities who, at every platform practised the art of real politik. He was part of a nucleus of young cadres, who oversaw NANSO from being a mass protest student movement into a critical transformation-based organisation, in the context of socio-economic concerns. In this regard, he served the largest student movement in various platforms and capacities, with consistent outstanding performance. It is here, at NANSO, that Cde Hawala honed his political-leadership skills.

We are passionately reminded that Comrade Hawala was a quick learner with a photographic memory. He would read a paragraph or listen to what is said and replicate it later like a parrot. We recall the numerous encounters when he used to recite ‘I am an African’ speech by President Thabo Mbeki. He also loved the phrase: “we have gathered as we have …,” which would serve as part of introductory remarks of the intended statement.

He was a master at parroting. Hawala was an orator, an articulate public speaker who could carry a gathering over to his viewpoint. He was in the class of the late Collin Kamehozu and Owen Shaamena, who all looked tender in body, but strong in intellect! His combination of masterfully crafted sentences was like the sound of a pet reciting an intimate poem to a special audience.

At his best he could be very radical, radiant, and ferocious. This Chris Hawala, whose life we shared, was part of a circle of friends who benefited greatly from the last bastion of quality leadership at UNAM through his association with the ‘Pan-Afrikan Students Society and The Caucus Political Science Club School of Thought’. Those were the days of robust intellectual intercourse and cross-fertilization of ideas, debates and engagement, meant to cement a better Namibia. He was an organic intellectual. Just before he passed on, he said: “The people of Zimbabwe have resoundingly rejected regime change. The failure of Morgan (Tsvangirai) and others should act as a deterrent to coconut revolutionaries. Struggle is our birthright. Aluta Comrades.” This was Hawala, the stubborn little boy from Okahandja.

At the University, we could only get the political theory in class. But the practical application of politics was to be found in the UNAM Dining Hall during lunchtime or late night meetings in comrades’ dormitories. Here, late Hawala was sharpened by these ferocious encounters. So much was his conviction and passion for justice around what needed to be done at UNAM that some senior students referred to him as a “poisoned first year!”

We re-collect the trip that we undertook in the year 2001, to the Caprivi Region to re-establish NANSO branches and re-energize student activism. It was Petro Hanse, Neville Andr?

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