Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo – the timeline


22 August 1924: Born at Omangundu village newe Ondangwa
1950: Graduated as a teacher at St Mary’s School
1951: Left for Cape Town, South Africa
1952 – 1953: Worked as a railway police officer
1957: Joined the African National Congress (ANC) at Cape Town
1957: Co-founded the Ovamboland People’s Congress (OPC), forerunner of the Ovamboland People’s Organization (OPO)
1958: Sent a petition to the United Nations, with the assistance of Mburumba Kerina and Michael Scott
1960: Appointed secretary-general after OPO reconstituted itself as Swapo
1966: Arrested and taken to Pretoria, where he and other Namibians were tortured and interrogated
1967: Put on trial with 36 other Namibians
1968: Sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment and incarcerated at Robben Island (he spent most of his time in solitary confinement)
1 March 1984: Released from Robben Island
1984: Became a member of the Swapo Central Committee and Politburo and elected Swapo secretary-general
November 1989 to March 1990: Member of the Constituent Assembly
1990: Became a member of the National Assembly and appointed minister of mines and energy
1993: Married Vicky Erenstein
March 1999: Appointed minister of labour
August 2002: Appointed minister of prisons
2004: Chose not to run for a seat in the National Assembly in time for 2004 general election
2007: Failed to be elected to the Swapo Politburo for the first time in the party’s history
9 June 2017: Passed away at the age of 92


  1. Correct your information. In 1960 Ya Tovo was not appointed secretary general of SWAPO. Jacob Kuhangua was the secretary general when it was OPO and ratained the position when it became SWAPO. Ya Toivo was the secretary of the SWAPO branch at Ondangwa only becoming secretary general of the party in 1984 when he was released from prison.


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