“He was a father, an uncle, a brother,” were the words of Kela Hamutenya as he described his late father, the liberation icon and veteran politician, Hidipo Hamutenya, who passed away yesterday morning.
Hamutenya drew his last breath yesterday after a long battle against illness. His death sent shockwaves through the across the country, but Kela said his father had a good run, both at home and at work.
There are those in political circles who are convinced the legacy of this struggle icon has not been celebrated enough to befit his caliber and selfless contribution to the country’s independence and the foundation of what is today known as the free and sovereign Republic of Namibia.
To this end, some are calling on the government to accord him a hero’s funeral, a State burial and for him to be laid to rest at Heroes Acre on the northern outskirts of Windhoek.
Hamutenya, affectionately known as “HH”, became a household name in the country and clearly still enjoyed great respect in the ruling Swapo Party, which he left in 2007 to form his the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), but he returned to his former political home last year and spent his last days back in the party he helped build into the remarkable historical force it became.
The respect and admiration for HH was evident in the manner that senior government officials and Swapo leaders rushed to his house in Olympia after it was confirmed that he had indeed departed from this world.
Among those who came to pay their respects yesterday were Vice President Nickey Iyambo, former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, former speaker of the National Assembly Theo-Ben Gurirab, as well as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Loide Kasingo.
Pohamba indeed went to the house of the bereaved twice yesterday, once in the morning and again the afternoon to help comfort his wife, Nangula, and their five children, his office confirmed to New Era.
The office of founding president Sam Nujoma yesterday said: “Tatekulu is drafting nothing at this stage.”
Word is yet to come from President Hage Geingob, who was yesterday in South Africa for a bilateral meeting.
Social media went abuzz yesterday with the news messages of condolences came flooding in thick and fast as the mainstream press carried news of Hamutenya’s death, following a brief update by his nephew, Kennedy Hamutenya, who wrote: “Go in Peace and Rest in Peace Tatekulu. You will forever be my superhero, my inspiration, my role model. You have played your part. To me your spirit is immortal. Never to be forgotten. Our souls will meet up again someday.”
It was Kennedy’s cofnirmation that put to bed weeks of rumours and talk that HH had died shortly after collapsing recently at a wedding in the north. “I was with recently at that wedding and we sat there joking with him, not knowing that this will be the last time I will see him,” narrated former prime minister Nahas Angula. “We regret the passing on of our elder comrade. He has a rich legacy of contribution to our independence,” Angula said.
He added that it was through the work of the late Hamutenya that during the fight for independence they managed to send many Namibians to school, especially in West African countries. “Many of those people are now in leading positions in the government and private sector,” Angula noted.
At the time of his death, Hamutenya was 77 years old.
The National Assembly yesterday observed a moment of silence for Hamutenya while that Speaker Peter Katjavivi described him as “a dedicated comrade”.
Hamutenya’s successor, RDP president Jeremiah Nambinga strongly urged Geingob to honour Hamutenya in accordance with his contribution to the country. “He deserves to be accorded a hero’s funeral and a state funeral. I have no doubt that Geingob would honor him by burying him at Heroes Acre,” said Nambinga.
McHenry Venaani, the leader of the official opposition, the DTA, yesterday said the legacy of late Hidipo Hamutenya would reverberate in through time and what he did for Namibia will not be forgotten.
“My only regret is that this legacy was never celebrated whilst he was with us. Let us take a lesson from this and celebrate the lives of living legends and icons amongst us whilst they themselves are here, not only to share their stories, but to know that they are appreciated and Namibia is thankful and forever indebted to them,” Venaani said. – Additional reporting by Nampa