Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, one of the revolutionary heroes who were party to propounding and presenting the ideas of modern nationalism that paved the way for the birth of national politics in its concrete form, is no more alive. I don’t claim to know this legend since I only met him for the first time in the UK at a solidarity function organised there by the Manchester City Council in 1986.
It is on record that Toivo, based on his familiarity and exposure with South African forms of political organisation, was instrumental in introducing the idea of a unified liberation movement to political groupings in Namibia. He was a catalyst and founder of OPO established for the purpose of articulating the fundamentals of our people who were under racist colonial South African subjugation.
It is on record that Toivo with late Emil Appolus and late Solomon Mifima conceived the idea of forming OPO in 1958 in Cape Town, but before the launching he was given 72 hours to leave South Africa on account of the petition (contained in the tape recording) that he sent to the United Nations to highlight the plight of Namibian people.
Comrade Toivo would be remembered for having travelled to Namibia with Jariretundu Kozonguizi at the end of 1958 after his deportation in pursuit of putting into practice the idea of forming the first national liberation movement, which they had conceived in 1957 when Kozonguizi boarded with him and Solomon Mifima in Langa, Cape Town.
In that regard, they stopped at Keetmanshoop to consult our communities and also met late Phillip Musirika before proceeding to Windhoek. It is in Windhoek that the idea was further put to Namibians in November 1958 where it was decided that Toivo should go to northern Namibia for mobilising our people. Being conscious of the ‘danger’ in ‘Ovamboland’ that would emanate from Toivo’s dynamism, youthfulness, energy and vibrancy, the racist Pretoria regime arrested him in Tsumeb in December 1958 where he spent his Christmas and New Year in prison. He was then transferred to Ovamboland where he was put under house arrest under the tribal leadership of Chief Kombonde since 1959. Toivo’s arrest and Kozonguizi’s departure for New York delayed the launch of one of the first national liberation movements, SWANU.
In pursuit of the struggle for national liberation to the bitter end and also in fulfilment of the noble revolutionary task to its logical conclusion, Comrade Dr Sam Nujoma with Jakob Kuhanga took upon their shoulders the launching of OPO in April 1959 against all odds, which the field of scope presented, namely, the imperialist conspiracy and cold-blooded assassination.
Toivo would therefore be remembered for having conceived the idea of national politics that paved the birth of “National Union” in the form of SWANU in September 1959 that was composed of OPO, Herero Chief’s Council and South West Africa Progressive Association (SWAPA), peasants, etc. This happened despite his absence on account of solitary confinement and house arrest. It is for this altruistic reason that I pay my tribute, Hamba Kahle!!
Late Toivo would go in the annals of our history for having been one of the founding members of SWAPO when it was formed in April 1960 and arrested in 1966; Robben Island in 1968 on account of giving unconditional and unequivocal allegiance to the armed struggle launched in 1966 at Omungulubashe and imprisoned at notorious Robben Island where some of the cream of our revolutionaries such as Gerson Hitjevi Veii (of SWANU), Nelson Mandela (ANC) and Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe (PAC) were also imprisoned.
It was with honour that subsequent to his release from notorious Robben Island in March 1984, in defiance of international sectarian politics that permeated our political landscape and rendered it an exclusive monopoly of some, he decided to make his first public pronouncement at the SWANU Extraordinary National Congress held on 1 – 2 September 1984. His decision to use this platform was triggered by the surreptitious promulgation by the puppet Turnhalle “National Assembly” of a repressive law, the notorious “Notification and Prohibition of Meeting Act” of December 1981 that was intended to emasculate the mobilisation programme of members of national liberation movements to a point of fatigue.
This demonstrated unity of purpose in action – something we must emulate if we are indeed true lieutenants of his legacy.
I wish to pay my tribute to this legend and revolutionary hero because of the way he handled the plight of late Comrade Gerson Veii in 2005/6, when it was brought to the attention of this nation. As a Minister of Prison and Correctional Services, he acted swiftly and late Comrade Veii was relocated from the farm to Windhoek and subsequently integrated with his former friends and comrades from Robben Island.
It was never a practice amongst African warriors to mourn a fallen hero. It is in this context that I wish to pay my tribute by saying a revolutionary train will never stop for a fallen luggage however valuable it is. Thus we will not mourn your passing on, but will rather utilise your legacy to complete the unfinished business on our political menu.
Suva Mohange – Let your Soul rest in eternal Peace.
Long live the indomitable revolutionary Spirit of Cde Toivo ya Toivo.
Dr Rihupisa Kandando