Windhoek-President Hage Geingob yesterday formally conferred the honour of national hero status upon the late Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo and has directed a state funeral be held for the former Robben Island prisoner.
Ya Toivo, who held ministerial portfolios of mines and energy, labour and prisons between 1990 and 2006, died on Friday in Windhoek.
“As is customary with this announcement the remains of Ya Toivo will be interred at Heroes Acre and it is directed that all flags in Namibia be flown at half-mast with effect from Wednesday, June 21, 2017 until Saturday, June 24, 2017, the date of the official state funeral,” Albertus Aochamub, spokesperson in the presidency said yesterday.
Those dates also constitute the official period of mourning, he further confirmed.
Meanwhile, former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, during a gathering at the Ya Toivo residence on Monday evening, described the late icon as a continental hero.
“In my view he is a hero for the South Africans. In my view Andimba Toivo ya Toivo is a hero for the African continent. He’s the hero of the world,” Pohamba said in a moving tribute.
Speaking at the same gathering, president of Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) Jeremia Nambinga said he met Ya Toivo for the first time on March 1, 1986 when he (Nambinga) was vice-chairman of the Swapo Windhoek branch.
He related how Ya Toivo initially refused to be released from prison, insisting he would not go unless other Namibians were released too.
“I was surprised and I must state here that perhaps the commitment and determination of Ya Toivo is genetic,” said Nambinga, who explained that the late Ya Toivo’s mother asked Nambinga to tell Ya Toivo the country was not yet liberated hence he should continue with his activism.
Pohamba on Monday applauded President Geingob for declaring that Ya Toivo would be laid to rest at Heroes Acre.
Ya Toivo’s body will be flown to Ondangwa on Thursday where a memorial service will take place at Oluno on Friday. Another memorial service will be held in Windhoek on Friday, June 23 before the burial the next day at Heroes Acre.