WINDHOEK –The commemoration of December 10 should always serve as a lesson and reminder for Namibians not to take their independence for granted, Khomas Regional Governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua said yesterday.
She spoke at the commemoration of International Human Rights Day that was also Women’s Day, at the memorial gravesite in Pionierspark cemetery for heroes and heroines who died in the Old Location massacre at the hands of the former colonial authorities in 1959. “We should guard our freedom firmly and jealously and should never allow our country and people to be subjugated, colonised and otherwise taken hostage by anybody by any means, no matter how merciless or powerful they might be on this earth. We should firmly embrace national reconciliation as a guarantor of progress, political tolerance and national unity,” said the Khomas Governor.
She said the December 10 experience should also serve as a lesson for the younger generation to study and learn of the glorious history with logical retrospection and introspection, and they should work hard to guarantee everlasting political and economic freedom, independence and democracy.
“Namibians especially the youth, ought to always remember that the purpose of colonial conquest of the African continent by the foreign imperial powers was to acquire wealth through illegitimate means and the only way to do that was firstly to acquire land through means of systematic intimidation, division and subdivision, torture and brutal killings of innocent local people like what happened 54 years ago,” she told those gathered at the event.
She said for the indigenous people of Namibia as elsewhere on the continent, the result of what has been described as the Scramble for Africa by colonisers was as drastic and as tragic.
“Let us study our history and that of Africa carefully, because it is very rich,
enlightening, informative and educating. As we commemorate and celebrate the gallantry of the fighters of our independence struggle, let us commit and recommit to hard work and perseverance,” she said.
McLeod-Katjirua said Namibians must try and reverse the drastic and tragic situation of poverty, unemployment, hunger, diseases and ignorance afflicting the nation by working harder and through recommitting to nation building at all times.
“The 10th of December is part and parcel of our history and the liberation struggle and as it is we also owe it to our own gallantry and heroism. The freedoms and rights we enjoy today were brought about by heavy sacrifices by older and recent generations. I reiterate my calling upon you to rededicate to national reconciliation, nation building, hard work and discipline,” she said. She said December 10 was also significant 64 years ago when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights so that the rights of all humankind are protected.
“In the context of the International Human Rights Day commemorations, let us be reminded of Article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that spells out that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself/herself and of his /her family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social service, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his/her control,” she said.
McLeod-Katjirua said Namibia prides itself to count among a pocket of countries in Africa and the third world to have devised policies, strategies, programmes and projects aimed at reducing poverty “in the short, medium and long term perspectives to eliminate poverty”.
“We also pride ourselves in having achieved a lot since independence, maintained peace and stability and having a bright and promising future. We are committed to development by overwhelmingly accepting a number of human rights treaties and by signing on to the international consensus to make poverty history, through the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals as well as the 2005 World Economic Summit Outcomes.” She said the realisation of human rights, including the fight against poverty, is a duty, not a mere aspiration.
“I call upon all citizens of the Republic of Namibia to work hard and plan to eradicate poverty by all means. Let us strive to fight for economic growth that will benefit all of us, both poor and well off,” she said.
McLeod-Katjirua said the increase in policy programmes and projects aimed at uplifting the living standards of people will always serve as clear testimony that the government is committed to working hard to eradicate poverty from its midst.
“We also ought to pay a special tribute to the many human right defenders who in formal and informal settings, in large and small communities, often facing difficult and hazardous situations, contributed to building a universal culture of human rights. Let us understand and appreciate that human rights are our common heritage and their realisation depends on the contributions that each and every one of us is willing to make, individually and collectively, now and in future,” she said.
Before ending her statement she requested the observation of a minute of silence in memory of iconic African leader, fearless freedom fighter, anti-apartheid campaigner and fearless defender of human rights, former South African president, the late Nelson Mandela, who accomplished his vision and mission on earth by liberating South Africa and Africa from apartheid.
By Fifi Rhodes