Tributes have hardly started to evaporate, and tears of sorrow have not started to die, if ever they will, at the physical eternal retreat from this world of workerist, petitioner and freedom fighter, Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, whose soul the country committed to eternal memory last Saturday.
The liberation stalwart bowed out of Mother Earth on Friday 9 June, only to be followed two weeks later, on Thursday June 22, by another veteran of Namibia’s struggle for independence, John Tjikanguka Garvey Muundjua.
One is beginning to wonder about the month of June, especially that it often seems to coincide with the eternal retirement of colonial resistance, liberation and freedom stalwarts.
A flash back to the days of colonial resistance would reveal that Ovambanderu erstwhile Paramount Chief, Kahimemua Nguvauva, and Ovaherero Chief, Nikodemus Kavikunua, were executed together on 12 June 1896, by German colonial troops. Ondonga King, Kambonde, likewise completed his mission in the same month of June in 1909.
As recently as 2014, Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Dr Kuaima Riruako, joined his the ancestors in the same month, and earlier this month Ya Toivo and now Muundjua. Surely, the month must go down in the annals of Namibian history as somehow epochal for recalling Namibian stalwarts.
Muundjua, amongst others, is credited with an instrumental and pivotal role in the mobilisation and agitation of Africans against their forceful removal by the Apartheid colonial regime in the then South West Africa from the Old Location, today’s Hochland Park residential area in Windhoek, to modern day Katutura.
The fact that in 1959 the colonial regime reacted with brutality, resulting in the 1959 massacre in the Old Location, has in some quarters squarely been credited to Muundjua and his fellows.
Not surprisingly, because earlier the same year Muundjua, and others like Clement Kapuuo, Reverend Bartholomews Karuaera, Erwin Tjirimuje, Uatja Kaukuetu, Tunguru Huaraka and Dr Zed Ngavirue, were members of the special constitutional committee before the launch of the South West Africa National Union (Swanu) on 27 September 1959.
Swanu, which united many Namibian nationalists and Pan Africanists then came to be the main agent agitating against the forceful removal of Africans to Katutura up and until the 1959 massacre, and for Namibian freedom.
This weekend Muundjua shall be committed to long lasting memory at the Old Location cemetery, now a national heritage site. This is as per his personal wish. But befittingly so, because in the Old Location is where his nationalist seed was planted, watered and germinated.
With the forceful removal of Africans from the Old Location to Katutura in the late 1950s, he chose to instead go into self-imposed internal banishment in the Aminuis communal area, instead of cowing to forceful removal. He only returned to find eternal rest in his struggle fortress. Yes, this surely must he his Heroes Acre.
Post independence, Muundjua, came to serve his community in many respects, not least on the farming front, having been on the board of Meatco at one point. But corporate governance to him did not come after independence, but dates back to the struggle years when he also served as chairperson of the African Publishing Company, publishers of the first ever indigenous publication, Suidwes Nuus (South West News).
“We feel that a project like ours, the African Publishing Company, which is financed, controlled, managed and owned by Africans, and which has various purposes – could be one of the methods by which your goals would be reached,” Muundjua petitioned the UN General Assembly Committee on South West Africa on 20 September 1960 pleading for assistance in his capacity as board chair.
“As we are writing this letter a proclamation has been issued by the chief magistrate of Windhoek preventing Africans not only from holding meetings, but any gathering by a group of Africans has been declared illegal. Therefore, as a result of this proclamation the old location is being patrolled by the police every night.
“This provocative attitude of the fascist government has again caused an enormous degree of unrest and bitterness among the residents of the Old Location, as it reminds them of the 10th and 11th December, 1959, when lives were lost.”
“It is because of this ever growing oppression that our petitioners called upon the United Nations to send a mission to the territory in order that they may verify what the petitioners have been telling them.
“This being what the people of S.W.A. have along been wanting, but no to the philosophical euphony of people such as Mr. E. Kennedy who maintains that sending a commission would make the situation more tense,” John Garvey Muundjua wrote in yet another petition on December 10, 1960 to the United Nations, then as vice president of SWANU.
Today there are people with names such as Karapio. In fact, this should be Carpio. This is after U.N.’s South West Africa Committee chairperson, Victorio D. Carpio of the Philippines, who led this committee’s delegation to the then South West Africa in 1962. This came after South Africa had for long refused the UN such a visit.
Namibia obtained independence on 21 March 1990 with the implementation of the Namibian peace process supervised by the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG). John Garvey Muundjua has surely completed his mission.