Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma says he is proud to be crowned with the African Union (AU) ‘Son of Africa’ accolade.
Receiving the award on his behalf, Utoni Nujoma, who is his elder son and also the Minister of Land Reform, said his father expresses his sincere appreciation and profound gratitude to the AU and its Commission for Peace and Security for the award.
“I am grateful for this distinct honour and I accept it with humility and pride, on behalf of the Namibian people,” he said.
The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) first secretary, Maria Ruth Neto, was also presented with the accolade.
The award was received on her behalf by the Republic of Angola Ambassador to Namibia Manuel Alexandre Duarte Rodrigues.
Nujoma and Neto are the second recipients of the Son of Africa award for their lifetime achievement in the promotion of peace and dignity on the continent.
The 2014 award went to former Tanzanian Prime Minister Salim Ahmed Salim and Tanzanian struggle icon Brigadier-General Hashim Mbita.
Commissioner of the AU Commission for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, presented the award to the two in their absentia at the gala dinner of the two-day 6th Annual Retreat of Special Envoys and Mediators (ARSEM) on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability, at the Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino on Wednesday.
Nujoma said the honour is not only in recognition of his personal efforts but also goes to the Namibian people –“who I was honoured and privileged to lead for the past thirty years, both before and after independence”.
“It gives me great satisfaction to be conferred with this prestigious award together with Madam Maria Neto,” he added.
Nujoma said conflict in African countries has often resulted in severe disruption of social and economic development.
Consequently, Nujoma says, efforts to reduce poverty and sustain basic human rights have been severely constrained, leading to a recurrence of violence.
He said against this background, the retreat provides the continent with the unique opportunity to concertedly and holistically review the achievements made so far in the areas of peace, security and development in Africa and the challenges that lie ahead.
“The retreat has the vital objective to reflect on the experience of the AU in realising its vision and goals since its establishment, and examine current and emerging conflict trends and dynamics on the continent,” said the former head of state.
Nujoma said Africa must continue to reflect on the critical matter of achievement of peace, security and stability throughout the continent.
“This is inherent to the task of creating the necessary conditions to address the achievement of the fundamental socio-economic transformation of Africa,” he added.