An unforgettable event… Hitjevi Gerson Veii’s memorial and funeral

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• Observations by a Comrade from South Africa:

THIS astonishing event consisted of the memorial and burial services of the late Hitjevi Gerson Veii on Tuesday 25 February 2015 and Wednesday the 26 February 2015 respectively.
Tuesday was a balmy and hot afternoon in Windhoek.

The memorial service was being held on the Parliament Gardens grounds. It was evident from the programme that the leadership of the country and governing political party were well represented.

The marquee was under a lush greenery of trees that provided a calming shade for everyone except the armed services detachments and the army brass band.

The front row of seats, under the large tent, facing the podium from where the ceremony was directed and the casket lay on a platform, was occupied by the family of the late Comrade Veii, the President of the country, the Prime Minister and President-Elect and his life partner, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, and the Chief Justice of the country and other luminaries including ministers and a bishop.
The senior struggle veteran, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, was also there. So were several other former Robben Island political prisoners.
What all the speakers at the memorial service said about the late Comrade Veii was a historical narrative about the liberation struggle from the early 1960s to date.

Comrade Veii’s life was but one bright thread woven into a rich and strong tapestry that represents the history of the liberation struggle.
This event was fascinating to witness.

What was most striking was the fact the late Comrade Veii was, from the beginning of his political life to its end, a leader of the South West Africa National Union (SWANU).

Here I sat, saw and heard how the South West Africa Peoples Organisation (SWAPO), its party and government, unreservedly extended such an honour to a stalwart of a different political organisation! He was the first non-SWAPO comrade to be honoured in such a way and laid to rest at Heroes Acre. The consequences of this gesture speak volumes about the political maturity of SWAPO’s party and government.
I thought that the memorial service was enough of an experience and therefore I was not going to attend the funeral service at the Heroes Acre. Two very persuasive friends insisted that I attend the funeral service despite having told them how impressed I was with the memorial service. And so I did go to the burial. It was indeed a hero’s funeral with a 17-gun salute to boot! The President’s speech was the high point in bidding Veii farewell.

Comrade Veii’s aunt was the last to speak after the laying of the wreaths. What she said from her wheelchair brought tears to my eyes even though I did not understand a word of what she said. Her voice and cry were wrenching!

This was an emotionally exacting closure to the burial.
I left Windhoek for Johannesburg on Thursday the 26th of February 2015 in the afternoon.

The two services that I attended were fresh in my mind and succinctly reported in The Namibian of that day. I took a copy of that paper home with me to show my younger comrades of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) Cuito Canavale branch who were meeting on Sunday 01 March.

As an older comrade I often motivate the younger comrades to ensure that they realise that the struggle continues, A luta Continua.
I shared my experience and observations at the memorial and funeral service of the late Hitjevi Gerson Veii.

They found my story riveting! They looked at me with bewildered eyes as if I had come from another planet. No. I had just returned from Namibia. To them, SWAPO’s honouring a SWANU comrade was tantamount to an attempt at reconciling two of the countrys’ liberation organisations. What followed were analyses of the benefits that flowed from this kind of reconciliation.

A few days later, a pleasant surprised followed. President Hifikepunye Pohamba was awarded the 2014 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. This was for his outstanding efforts in forging national cohesion and reconciliation during Namibia’s crucial stages of democratic, social and economic developments.

The honour bestowed on the late Comrade Hitjevi Gerson Veii is but one shining example of the efforts cited in the award.
As a South African, I am impressed and envious of Namibia’s achievements.

Comrade Morley Nkosi
Member of the ANC
Cuito Cuanavale Branch
Ward 90, Johannesburg

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