Erica Ramakhutla: The liberation struggle and empowerment activist (1956–2003)

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By Mashuna Timoteus

THE colonial and post-colonial history of Namibia has produced a plethora of political leaders, who dedicated their lives for the betterment of the Namibian people and the world at large.
Among those is Erica Ramakhutla, who is one of the Namibian women who took a stand against the South African colonial authorities and after independence she continued to dedicate her life to empower disadvantaged women in Namibia. Citing the role she played during the liberation struggle and her continuous contribution to the welfare of women in post-colonial Namibia, one of her obituaries cited that Ramakhutla was a “fearless youth activist whose political passion was mobilising people around the country and after independence she concentrated her efforts in bringing Namibian women into the mainstream of the country’s economy”.
Ramakhutla was born on February 18, 1956, in Windhoek. During her childhood, she attended school at the Roman Catholic girl’s school Waldfrieden near Omaruru and from there went on to attend school at Döbra.
Despite the fact that the existing literature does not clearly indicate the exact period that Ramakhutla started her political activities, she is noted to have been involved in the political mobilisation of the Namibian people during the struggle for independence. She was not intimidated by the brutal and repressive measures taken by the apartheid regime against the people, who agitated for freedom and justice.
As fearless as she was, she spent most of the time during the liberation struggle, travelling to many parts of the country, mobilising fellow Namibians to support the struggle against apartheid.
Most of the commentators who eulogised Ramakhutla hail her for the firm and unwavering stance she took while attending a Swapo public rally that was held in Arandis in 1980. At that rally, Ramakhutla was among the few brave sons and daughters of this soil, who refused to be moved by the apartheid security forces that were sent to break up the meeting. Even though the South African security forces were firing teargas and whipping people in order to disperse them from the gathering, she refused to move.
“Alpheus !Naruseb and Erica Ramakhutla were the only people I saw standing, and there I could see this is a fearless young lady. She just stood there, while all the people were fleeing. She was firm but quiet,” reminisced Maria Kapere.
After Namibia attained its independence, she continued to play a meaningful role in national politics. She served as Secretary of the Swapo Party Women’s Council and retired in 2001. Nonetheless, despite retiring from active politics, she did not seek the comfort of resting following the long and bitter years of political struggle and social activism.
Instead, she ventured into business with the purpose to improve the lives of disadvantaged women in Namibia.
“We want to include more women in this joint venture. We are not looking at elite women, because we want to accommodate more disadvantaged women as much as we can,” commented Ramakhutla during an interview after her retirement.

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