WINDHOEK – Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr Sam Nujoma, together with Cabinet ministers, senior government officials and members of the diplomatic corps last Thursday witnessed three nation-building and historical events when President Hifikepunye Pohamba inaugurated the Independence Memorial Museum and unveiled the Genocide Memorial and giant Sam Nujoma Statue in Windhoek.
The statue of Nujoma holding the ‘Constituency Book’ faces Windhoek and stands on a pedestal on the hill where the infamous Reiterdenkmal stood for more than 102 years.
A few metres away to the south is the Genocide Statue of a man and woman embracing one another with chains broken on top of a hut symbolising their freedom.
Pohamba said in recent months the Reiterdenkmal was in the news because it was removed from its position to make way for the Genocide Memorial.
“Through this new monument, the Namibian nation has spoken with one voice and given a befitting tribute to the victims of the genocide. We owe this to the victims of the genocide and to ourselves as a nation,” he added.
Pohamba said the construction of the Independence Memorial Museum was part of fulfilling the sacred task to tell, record and preserve Namibia’s history. He described the museum as a centre where Namibia’s long history of anti-colonial resistance and the national liberation struggle is told.
Pohamba said Namibians are filled with sadness when they recall the horrors their people were subjected to while under colonial rule. “Thousands lost their lives, however, we are fortified by the knowledge that the current and future generations will continue to carry the flame of the revolution forward,” he said.
He said the Genocide Memorialwas conceived and erected as a national symbol in remembrance of all the people who lost their lives and were subjected to untold hardships and suffering at the hands of the Schutztruppe, which was the African colonial armed force of imperial Germany. He said the two statues and the museum in Robert Mugabe Avenue now occupy the location where a concentration camp was built during the German colonial period.
“Within its walls, our people were dehumanised. They were tortured, starved and summarily killed without any regard to their dignity and humanity. They were treated worse than the beasts of the veld. No distinction was made by the Schutztruppe and the rest of the German colonial machinery whether they were men, women, or children – they were all brutalised without mercy,” he said.
President Pohamba said the Genocide Memorial pays tribute to the people who fought and died during the genocide of the 1904 -1907 war, while the Sam Nujoma Statue represents Namibia’s modern phase of the national liberation struggle.
By Fifi Rhodes