The intellectual liberation struggle hero: Professor Peter Katjavivi (1941 … )

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Professor Peter Katjavivi

By Mwaka   Liswaniso

WINDHOEK – Professor Peter Katjavivi, founding Vice- Chancellor of the University of Namibia (Unam), was the founder and head of the first Swapo office in Europe and he was also Swapo’s deputy representative in Tanzania.

He also served as the Swapo secretary for legal and economic affairs.

Born in the small town of Okahandja known as the garden town of Namibia on 12 May 1941, is none other than the Doctor of Philosophy Peter Katjavivi best known as the first Vice – Chancellor of the University of Namibia (Unam).

According to his profile biography in the national archives of Namibia, Professor Katjiavivi was educated at the Lutheran Mission School in Okahandja until 1950 when he went to a Herero school in Windhoek.

Professor Katjiavivi was also one of the many politicians who went to school at Augustineum College at that time in Okahandja in 1959.

He got his first job as a clerk in 1961where he saved some money to further his education.

In an article Who’s Who in Africa reads that: “His political journey began in 1962 when he left the country through Botswana where he was arrested and imprisoned for three week in Palm tree jail. Eventually he was rescued by a British commissioner and arrived in Dar es Salaam Tanzania.  The same year he received his scholarship to study in Nigeria.”

In 1963 Professor Katjavivi began a two years course at Umuahia Government College in Nigeria until 1965 when he returned to Dar es Salaam and began a course in History and Law which he did not complete as he became engrossed in Swapo work which later lead him to join other Namibians in exile in 1966.

He became part of the Dar es Salaam exiles that helped transform Swapo into an international force in the struggle for the liberation of Namibia.

While in exile between the years 1966 and 1968 he played a very important role, as he held a number of posts, that of a Deputy Representative for Swapo in Tanzania, he’s also the Founder and Head of the first Swapo office in Europe, and a Swapo Secretary for legal and Economic Afairs a post he held till 1976.

From 1976 to 1983 he held the post of secretary for information and publicity this is why he is referred to as one of Swapo’s  ‘ideas men.’

He was one of the people who attended the session of the International Court of Justice at The Hague in June 1971when the advisory opinion was delivered against South African occupation of Namibia.

He went for further studies and in 1986 he received a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Oxford UK.

Katjavivi also did a pilot study on Namibia History at Joensuu University in Finland and participated in the Southern Africa research program at Yale University in the USA during 1988 to 1989.

When he returned to Namibia in 1989, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly and served on the drafting committee, which drew up the Swapo Party Research Unit from 1989 to 1991.

He continued to serve the country as a Member of Parliament in the country’s first national Assembly, a post he held until 1991 when he was appointed by the founding president Dr Sam Nujoma as a Special Adviser on Higher Education and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Namibia (Unam).

Katjavivi contributed to numerous academic articles, papers and reviews on Namibia and Southern Africa, Which include: “The Road to Namibian Independence,” “Church and Liberation in Namibia” and “To be born a Nation,” which he wrote in 1981.

Professor Katjavivi also compiled documentation on Swapo from the period 1965 to 1988 that include reports, speeches, press releases, internal documents that are thought to be the largest individual collection on Swapo available.

He was also the Director-General of the National Planning Commission (NPC) a post he held from 2008-2010 and he was later appointed as Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union (EU) in 2003.

From 2006 he was assigned as Namibia’s Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany a post he held until 2008.

Professor Katjavivi currently serves as a Member of Parliament (MP) and as Swapo Chief Whip.

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