‘Non-warfront fighters are heroes too’

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By Helvy Shaanika

OMAPOPO – Swapo Secretary General, Nangolo Mbumba, has said that people that went into exile are not the only heroes and heroines, who contributed to the independence of Namibia.

Unveiling the tombstone of a freedom fighter, who was killed at Omapopo village during a battle between the South African army and PLAN fighters in 1988, Mbumba said most Namibians – whether they were in exile or not – contributed to the independence of the country.
“Heroes came from everywhere; don’t let anybody tell you that you didn’t contribute. Some people were even working in banks but they were soldiers,” the Swapo SG said.

“Today we see people like Councillor Amutenya gwaNdahafa [of Uuvudhiya Constituency], as somebody that only worked in Oranjemund and that’s it. Not knowing that he was supplying medication to PLAN fighters for free while some people only went to Luanda (Angola) and they were sent to Kwanza, then Sierra Leone and later to Nigeria and came back home. Therefore, you should not let anyone tell you that you did not contribute,” said Mbumba.

Mbumba advised Namibians to start documenting events of the liberation struggle. He stressed the importance of writing history down for the benefit of future generations.

The Swapo Secretary General was unveiling the tombstone for Naftal Emmanuel Amadhila, a 28-year-old PLAN fighter who died on March 1, 1988, during a battle with the South African army at Omapopo village in Uuvudhiya Constituency.

The tombstone was designed and erected by Oshakati-based businessman Meitaalo Kamati, who also helped to trace the family of the late Amadhila.

“I was a child back then, but every time I passed his grave with a donkey cart on my way to the cattle [post], I had always questioned what this guy (late Amadhila) was fighting for. I later got to understand that this guy was fighting for our freedom.

“In 2010, I decided to use the little information I had to build him a tombstone. However, by coincidence, I bumped into someone, who I introduced myself to that I was from Omapopo village. This person asked me if I knew where the grave of his relative by the name of Naftal Amadhila was. He said the family heard that he was killed at Omapopo village but they were struggling to locate his grave…,” explained Kamati.

Recalling of the incident, Taimi Shuuya, who together with other villagers later buried the body of Amadhila, said she was in her mahangu field when she saw a man on a bicycle riding towards her homestead.

“When he got near, he told me that he had travelled a long distance and he was very tired. He said the South African army was chasing after him and he knew that he was not going to make it, he would die that day. He tried to hide his gun on a tree near the house, but the Koevoets were very [fast], moving very close. He rushed to my uncle’s cuca shops where he also wanted to hide his gun, but when he realised that he could not, he ran away as the enemy was also getting closer.

“Just after a few minutes after he left, we heard gun shots… they killed him. They brought his body to us, assaulted his lifeless body in front of us. They then told my uncle to eat the corpse, but he put his foot down and told them frankly that he does not eat human beings.
“That’s when they left the body. We laid him to rest the following day, but we did it in a rush because we were scared that the enemy would return…” Shuuya narrated as she relived the memory.

Swapo co-ordinator for Oshana Region, Erastus Kapolo, applauded Kamati and a group of villagers and businesspeople that helped to erect the tombstone on the late Amadhila’s grave. Kapolo maintained that thousands of young Namibians sacrificed their lives for Namibia’s independence, but not everyone will have an opportunity to be buried at the heroes’ acre or other national monuments like

Omugulugwombashe. He thus urged Namibian people to emulate Kamati’s example by honouring fallen heroes, who died during the various battles of the liberation struggle at various places.

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