While attending the independence celebrations my mind went to the person who started it all…the pathfinder. At the last Swapo rally or the 21st March inauguration the sight of him or the mentioning of his name, would bring a thundering applause from all. During the weekend of Easter I set off to his farm to spend some hours with Dr Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma with the intention of understanding this son of the soil from my perspective and to introduce my first born to the worth of this man.
Do we know the person Sam Nujoma? Was he born with teeth, does his strength lie in his beard like Samson, “ueja nombunda”? According to him “when children are born in the African culture, only women are present” and thus I did not ask. Why was he chosen by Hosea Kutako? Why did he not abandon the struggle like others? How did he convince an intellectual such as Kwame Nkrumah when he had no degree?
The type of Sam Nujoma comes by in a thousand years. They are so humble despite their unmatched accomplishments. They are born simple, yet rise above the wildest imaginations of their neighbours. They tower above their own pain and suffering and suffer for others they have not seen or might not meet during their lifetime. Those in my tribe would call him the only “Omwambo korujezu, komajo omaapa”, he who despite the attempt by the colonialist to paint him as the terrorist brings assurance to all across colour or tribal spectrum.
Robert Frost informs us that we are constantly confronted with choices in life with regard the road we wish to travel. Sam Nujoma had the choice of travelling the road that will not eat away at his youth that would make him another black face in the crowd, a mere human. He, however, chose a road of carrying the cross of his folk, as man was created not just to live for self but either to conquer or to die for the collective. Maybe to him being called a “terrorist”, “Daai Wambo”, and all sorts of names his parents never gave him, was worth living for than be like a leaf in the centre of the whirlwind. As he himself said “it did not bother me”.
I ask him how he feels when Ndilimani sings at the top of their lungs asking “Sema ulipeni”. With a smile of modesty, he says his answer is always “I am right here, where Kutako left me to lead the foot soldiers of our struggle”. Nujoma attentively, notwithstanding human power, carried the relay button at that critical time in the history of our country. He was there when we needed a thorn in the flesh of the colonialist or a fly in their soup and he was there when my country needed a foreman not only to steer, but also to build from nothing. At independence my country needed Sam Nujoma at that time, the man who would wag the finger when needed and the man who would take decision for “My government and I”, as the buck should always stop with a president. (Dr Hage G. Geingob)
According to Citizen Nahas Angula, a friend of mine, he believes that Nujoma managed the schism that engulfed Swapo in exile very well, between the educated and uneducated. He also selflessly decided to send others to study, only for him to study when independence was achieved. He currently boasts a Master’s Degree in Geology from the University of Namibia. A leader should have values and act in accordance with those values however subjective and unpopular those values might be. (Nahas Gideon Angula)
Sam Nujoma represents not only our quest for identity, but also the will to define and redefine that identity. Our resolve to make mistakes on our own and for ourselves, for God made man to be free and have free will. He comes from the generation, like the ones of Moses and Joshua, who have lived their purpose purposefully. He stayed the course when others allowed themselves to be lured by the spoils of colonialism. He taught us that when you are on the side of history, you do not need to speak English or have degrees to have others support your cause. He taught us that parents ought to sacrifice for their offspring. He taught us to lead is a calling greater than one’s comfort. He taught us that the happiness of the collective is the “sine qua non” for self-actualisation. When the collective is happy, the self automatically will be happy, and “dimidium facti qui coepit habet” (He who has begun has the work half done. – Horace)
Citizen Angula opined that Nujoma’s move to Walvis Bay, to stay with his aunt must have been the defining moment for the person who could care for others.
As we walked through his garden, which he knows by heart, I realised Nujoma was born to be a gardener of dreams, aspirations and visions of both flora and humans. He took me through his garden and the school project he is building for the children of the surrounding farms. He told me education is the only weapon, and proudly stated that this year we will have our very own doctors produced by our very own university. To him patience and dedication are the desirable qualities.
As it was about time for me to depart, I asked how he would want to be remembered, and without hesitation he said: “As a citizen of this country”. I left knowing that Nujoma is all we have. He belongs not to a house, clan, and group but a nation and any attempt to have him fade from our memories should passionately be resisted. As I used to recite poetry at his birthday when I was not this old, he remains “ependa romapenda, ondjerera moutuku, otjiku tjo hanganeno”. Happy Birthday father of my nation, unrivalled freedom fighter, leader par excellence, the quintessential.