So long, Ya Toivo!

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Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Windhoek-Namibia and Africa on Saturday bade farewell to one of its upright revolutionaries – liberation struggle icon Herman Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo – who was buried at the revered Heroes Acre cemetery outside Windhoek.

Ya Toivo died at the age of 92 on June 9 and the government accorded him a state funeral with full military honours.

Ya Toivo was Namibia’s longest serving Robben Island prisoner back in the day, having served 16 years on the notorious island, whose inhabitants were largely political activists opposed to the apartheid system.

He was buried on the third tier of the cemetery next to another revolutionary and Namibia’s first minister of defence, Peter Mweshihange.

Hundreds of Namibians and about a dozen African dignitaries turned out to bid farewell to the struggle hero who was sent off with a 21-gun salute.

Ya Toivo’s widow Vicky, the couple’s children, President Hage Geingob and other mourners openly wept as the casket was lowered into the ground, just after 11am.

In his final national message, Geingob said Ya Toivo and his peers should not be honoured with words but with actions, adding that it was through action that this brave son from Omangundu village in Oshana Region scaled the heights of the school of life, to become a symbol of defiance against tyranny and oppression.

“’I am now done with my mission and very frail. I’m at the airport with my ticket now, waiting for the plane to come so that I go home to meet my friends, Tobias Hainyeko and others,’” said Geingob in quoting Ya Toivo in his own words.

“Comrade ya Toivo, for the past several years, we have been with you at the airport in the waiting room, keeping you company while you waited for your plane to arrive.”

“That plane has arrived, and we are escorting you to the plane, tears in our eyes as you walk up the stairs with your one-way ticket, ready to begin your non-stop flight to a destination where there will be no more hatred, no more fighting, no more incarceration and no more pain,” he added.

The head of state said the restlessness and toiling of the living world is no longer a concern for Ya Toivo. “For he has fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith.”

He said Ya Toivo is gone to reunite with his peers and friends such as stalwarts Tobias Hainyeko, Mweshihange, Maxton Mutongulume, Dimo Hamaambo, John ya Otto Nankhudu, Frederick Matongo, Peter Tsheehama, Peter Nanyemba, Mose Tjitendero, Richard Kabajani, John Pandeni, Andrew Intamba, Anton Lubowski, Gerson Veii, Moses

//Garoëb and so many other heroes and heroines of Namibia’s liberation struggle.
He said Ya Toivo will also peep into the room where his fellow Robben Island prisoners are, such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Steve Tshwete, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada and others – icons who suffered for the freedom of their people.

The struggle icon’s dignified state funeral was graced by, among others, Founding President Sam Nujoma, former President Hifikepunye Pohamba, ministers, representatives from both the South African and Zimbabwean governments, a Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) representative, other foreign dignitaries and hundreds of mourners who filled marquees and sitting points at Heroes Acre.

The funeral was also attended by 25 Namibian Robben Island survivors as well as representatives from Cuba.

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