Mukwahepo the mother, woman and soldier

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Founding president Dr Sam Nujoma and Aguste ya Immanuel share a light moment at the launch of the book ‘'Mukwahepo - Woman, Soldier, Mother'.

WINDHOEK – Founding president Dr Sam Nujoma yesterday urged veterans of the liberation struggle to write their life stories for future generations to know what happened during the bush war. Nujoma made the plea at the launch of an autobiography of the first woman to undergo combat training during the liberation struggle in 1965 in Kongwa, where she remained for nine years. Kongwa is situated in central Tanzania.

The book, titled ‘Mukwahepo – Woman, Soldier, Mother’ was written by Ellen Ndeshi Namhila who is also a librarian at the University of Namibia (Unam). It tells the story of Aguste ya Immanuel (Mukwahepo), a village girl who followed her fiancé into exile in 1963.

“We indeed owe it to this heroine and all other women who made similar sacrifices to record their stories and experiences and show that their sacrifices were not in vain,” said Nujoma.

He said reading the life story of ya Immanuel reminded him of how Namibian women have shown resilience in the face of enormous challenges and how they sacrificed so much for the country’s freedom and independence.

Nujoma said they fed, clothed and hid freedom fighters. They also provided important information on the movement and whereabouts of the enemy troops to combatants of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).

“We thank comrade meekulu Mukwahepo for sharing her story – the ordeals and triumphs of a true heroine of our struggle,” said Nujoma.  Ya Immanuel, better known as Mukwahepo while in exile, also committed her life to looking after children and babies.

She was later known as ‘meekulu’ (grandmother) Mukwahepo, the mother and grandmother of those without mothers and the caretaker of Swapo children in Zambia and later in Angola.

When Namibians in exile were repatriated in 1989, in the pre-election period that led to the country’s independence, Mukwahepo went home with the children she took care of.

Namhila said it took her 17 years to write the book but urged others to also contribute towards documenting the country’s history. Although she was not taught how to write her passion for writing and documenting history got stronger in 1993 when she saw her eight-year-old child reading a history book of the apartheid era. “We cannot read colonial history books. We blame others for giving us what they have,” Namhila said, stressing why Namibians should write about themselves.

Namhila, the author of several other books, including her autobiography ‘The Price of Freedom’ said she feels comfortable about writing on the history of the liberation struggle because she was part of it, although not from the beginning. The book ‘Mukwahepo – Woman, Soldier, Mother’ is published by the Unam Press.

 

By Alvine Kapitako

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