A Tribute to Tatekulu Sam Nujoma


There come times when our humanity must prevail over scars of history and bruises of narratives. There come times when the young must learn from the elders. There come times when the truth is stronger than prejudice. There come times when knowledge is stronger than ignorance.
There come times when facing who we are is more liberating than running from ourselves. There come times when our parents and relatives remain who they are: noting more and nothing less – they are with us, inseparable and bound by a chord that can never be broken by the weather.
There comes a time when we, as beneficiaries of our forefathers’ sweat and toil, must pause as individuals and as communities to look in our mirrors to see our own faces and our figures. Like true history, mirrors never lie, and have no diplomacy, except in the dark. In the mirror we see beyond the mere visible. We discern the invisible, and beneath our garments we hear the unheard. We know the unknown and can touch what our hands cannot touch. Yet the mirror has its maker.
It has its origin. What we see we owe to the hand that created the mirror offering us the ability to see our immediate selves. The not-so-immediate we cannot see, our limited competencies allowing us to see, hear, smell, taste and even touch what we have been taught to see, hear, smell, taste and touch.
History is only a partial enabler for us to sense more. Suspect more. Discern more. Know more. Appreciate more. Acknowledge more. Admit more. Say more. Give more. Love more. Yet we do not give more or enough.
In many of our Afrikan languages there are no words for please, or thank you. In many of our cultures it is an insult to say please or thank you to a parent or uncle for their goodwill, as it is assumed that it is their God-given responsibility to give and provide for the family anyway. Thus we do not say thank you enough.
Namibia is a sum-total of many efforts by many people who went on a blind date with us. Part of our national backgrounds as a nation is that we have been left with inadequacies and shortcomings with which we must deal as we move forward to our appointment with history.
We need a new language of questioning and appreciation. Hence we often do not say what we mean and we do not mean what we say.
The freedom, peace and stability that we have as a nation are all due to the sweat and toil, and yes blood, of those who went before us, most of whom we shall not meet because they are no more. Yet we are here, because they have been. And we are here so that others will be once we are no more.
It is time for us to look back and appreciate that all of us could have done more, differently, and better. We could have been better people in relation to those who made it possible for us to get here. Fallible and fault-full as they were, and with their human in/dis/abilities along the way, they brought us here, they made what is for us, what is with us, what is about us, and what we are.
This month we pause to celebrate the spirit, the being, the workmanship of our Founding President: Tatekulu Samuela ja Nujoma, one of the few remaining Pan-Africanist champions in the grand league of the likes of Kwame Francis Nkrumah, Haille Selassie, King Idris I, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Ahmed Ben Bella, Modibo Keita, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kenneth David Kaunda, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Gregoire Kayibanda, William Tubman, Felix Houphouet Boigny, Dawda Kairaba Jawara, Amilcar Cabral, Antonio Agostinho Neto, Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane, Banjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, Patrice Emery Lumumba, Jomo Kenyatta and Oliver Reginald Tambo.
From the esteemed Uukuambi lineage of Utoni Daniel Nujoma: Nujoma ua Mutshimba, Mutshimba gua Kandenge, Kandenge ka Negumbo, Negumbo lja Koongoti, came this bright star: Samuel Shafiishuna, the man who saw it all.
The young and restless labourer envisioned the future improbable, but that would belong to us all. His own safety and security mattered no more than the ideal of a society wherein all had dignity and respect, and a blanket of security to cover their sleep at night. He went away and wandered the world as a petitioner, the first president of the South West Africa People’s Organisation, the first Commander in Chief of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia, the Terrorist in Chief, and the leader of a formidable movement.
He returned to the land of his birth to become the Negotiator in Charge in the Constituent Assembly, the first President of the Republic of Namibia, the first First Citizen of a free Namibia, the first Commander in Chief of the Namibian Defence Force, and the First Many Other Things.
In the scheme of our republican life he is the Oshiveli (first born) of the extended Namibian family. In Afrikan mythologies the Oshiveli is never thanked enough, because he is between the parents and the younger siblings. The Oshiveli is blamed by the younger siblings for not defending them enough, or for getting too much attention from the elders.
The Oshiveli is appreciated only when he or she is no more, when the younger ones miss his or her guidance and undeclared protection. That is when the younger ones feel vulnerable and the parents and uncles feel the loss of a representative and a caretaker in their absence.
Tatekulu Nujoma laboured for decades on our behalf and in our name – before we had one; a conceiver of a nation to be born; a towering figure of finesse in organisation. An engineer of unity of historically divided and abused peoples. A selfless spirit powered by goodwill towards all. A wholesome soul inspired by a sense of righteousness across the land.
Skillful hands to instill discipline in the movement fit for purpose. Open heart to engender dignity and a sense of care in society. Stern demeanour to promise a better future for all in society. His inner hatred of oppression and dehumanisation fuelled his move ever forward to banish fear and dedicate his life to service and true emancipation.
Duty-bound, he toured the earth in search of our name. Confidently he straddled the borders in search of a habitat we could one day call home. Against all odds and with a disarming smile, Tatekulu Nujoma helped us stop merely existing, in order to start living. He balanced our lives in what has become the Namibian House.

Tatekulu Samuele ja Nujoma we entreat you to forgive us
Where we did not say it hard or long enough
That we owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be fulfilled
As long as we live.
Especially those who are young and semi-informed
Who still have to learn to say: Thank you!
We honour you
We cherish you
We celebrate you
We revere you
We lift you up above your peers
We restore you to the first chapters of our story
Yet to be told
Even if and when our languages are inadequate to express thus.
We salute you Tatekulu Nujoma
For your warfare to banish foreign rule
Your tenacity to endure blasphemy and deep insults
With your eyes on the Prize.
Your brinkmanship to spread throughout the earth abroad
That we were here, to be heard!
Your workmanship to create a nation from your conversations with:
Hosea Kutako and the Herero Chiefs’ Council
Kings and Queens across the length and breadth of our Motherland
And your comrades in arms
Your midwifery to oversee our birth to puberty
The Commander
The Quintessential Politician
The Master Builder
The Skilled Constructor
The Contractor Diplomat
The Unifier with an Eagle Eye
The Masterful Disciplinarian
The Forgiver-In-Chief on our road to National Reconciliation
The Mentor-Emeritus of stewards of our national resources
The Walker-In-Front towards our appointment with history.

Here we stand
We intercede in your name
Beckon us not to go astray
Call us back to the Banner of Unity
One Nation under God
With Bravery in our Hearts
Pride on our Heads
Our fists unclenched in the quest for sustainable peace
Our arms outstretched in the run of generosity to safeguard stability
Our eyes focused on our vision
To become better
Offering only our best
On the path you have paved for us
Help our Motherland to get here
Let your echo remind us to turn, with more vigor than before:
To Our Oneness
To the Land of the Brave
To Afrika
To Humankind.

You are not old but bold
You are not tired but retired
You are not gone but home
You are not there but here
You never fear yet you ever hear
You gave this land your hand
This is and shall remain the eternal lesson you taught us
And generations to come
Tatekulu Samuele ja Ndaniyela ja Nujoma
We whisper in your fatherly ear,
In all the tongues of this Land:
Kulupa nomesho!


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