By John Ekongo
The town of Okahandja on Saturday laid to rest its son of the soil, Chris Hawala, who died tragically in a motor vehicle accident a week ago. Hawala was buried at the town’s burial ground, where forefathers of Namibia’s pre-colonial struggle in the mould of Tjamuaha, Chief Hosea Kutako and Clemence Kapuuo also are buried.
Mourners, sympathisers and friends converged as early as 07h00, despite the bitter cold, at the family residence of the late Hawala in Laina Ekandjo Street, in the Nau-Aib residential area.
In an unprecedented count, young people constituted the large portion of gatherers for Hawala’s funeral. Many young people travelled from the vast regions of the country to pay their last respects to the young student leader, an indication of his likeable character.
Reverend Festus Uirab of the Bethesda Congregation conducted a two-hour church ceremony with the scripture reading performed by Victor Ganuseb, a senior cleric in the church.
The small church benches were packed to overflow, as well as the courtyard with an array of vehicles parked inside and outside the church enclave, with no single space in sight. Some mourners unable to find seating in the church, had to follow the service from outside.
Unable to hold back tears, Frans Saenen, Chief Executive Officer of Glenrand MIB Namibia, described Hawala as a peace-loving young man, and an exemplarily young adult who despite his tender age achieved more than what any adult three times his age could.
Hawala worked at the company as an insurance accounts’ executive from May 2006 until his sudden death.
In an eulogy read by family friend Joshua Kaumbi, the congregation heard that Hawala was the eldest amongst five siblings, and was raised by his maternal grandmother. Hawala started his primary schooling at Eben Primary School in 1989 at Okahandja at the age of five before preceding to Paresis Secondary School in Otjiwarongo for grades 7 up to 9.
Although socio-political conscious at a tender age, it was at Paresis that he blossomed into a young political gem, when at the age of 12 and in Grade 8 he became the National school debating champion, beating much older and knowledgeable opposition.
SWAPO Party Secretary General, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, in addressing mourners said the country was robbed of a gift. Iivula-Ithana remarked that although she had heard of the exploits of the young Hawala, she was saddened by the fact that “the generational gap has robbed her of an opportunity to know the late Hawala”.
After the church the cortege of vehicles proceeded to the Okahandja cemetery. At exactly 11h47, the solid white casket with gold handles was lowered into the ground, with small intimate expressions of grief being heard in the background from mourners, most naturally family members and close friends of the late.
In the spirit of solidarity, cadres of the SWAPO Party Youth League sang hymns and liberation songs during the two-day mourning, inviting further tears from mourners as Hawala was a noted singer and instigator of songs during the youth league meetings.
Hawala died at the age of 24.