Okozongumbati-Residents of Kunene Region who participated in the country’s liberation struggle both inside the country and in exile were last week honoured with medals for their heroics.
There were three categories, the Golden award for those who fought outside the country with which 25 recipients were awarded, while 53 received awards in the silver category for contributing to the struggle inside the country and 24 youths were awarded the bronze category.
There was no recipient from Khorixas and Outjo, as their names were not handed in.
Rex Thikameni Sheehama, who represents the veterans, led the programme held three kilometers outside Opuwo, where back in the day some of the locals were burned, tortured and killed by apartheid forces.
“Comrades I am urging you to unite. Unity in purpose and respect,” Sheehama – who fought in exile – told the gathering. Amidst loud cheers from the crowd, Sheehama said: “We are going to appreciate those who were part of the struggle for liberation in our region.”
The attendees were reminded that some of those who were fighting against the oppressive regime of apartheid South Africa were buried at Okozongumbati; some were buried alive and others burned.
“These people went through thick and thin. They were in the jungles of Zambia and in Angola. Let me tell you how difficult it was that time, as we carried guns to make sure Namibia is free,” Sheehama said, before lashing out at those who claim to be tired of peace. He also called for respect for elders.
“Some of you are getting tired of this peace. Some of us – particularly youth – don’t give respect. I urge you youth to respect (elders),” Sheehama warned.
He said there was no discrimination between blacks and whites and that schooling was free, noting these as fruits of the liberation of struggle. The attendees were told some of the human bones collected in Okozongumbati and buried here might belong to some of the local fighters.
Secretary general of Swapo Nangolo Mbumba, who laid a wreath at the Okozongumbati shrine, said those who fought during the struggle for liberation did not have excuses not to be part of it and never needed an invitation.
Mbumba told the attendees that they were here to remember those who fired the first bullet in 1966 on 26th August.
“The first bullets were fired not by one community, tribe or a church… It was fired by members of one organisation, called Swapo, irrespective of tribe, religion, or whether you were from a small family, as it was done to liberate every inch of Namibia.”
Those at the meeting were informed the Swapo leadership under the founding president, Dr Sam Nujoma, were not the first people to have fought for Namibia’s freedom, but were preceded by others, such as Hosea Kutako, Samuel Maherero and Hendrik Witbooi, amongd many others who initiated the anti-colonial struggle.
“If wee start a system of insulting one another and others, what will we get from it?” Mbumba asked.
Raimo Movirongo, who fought from 1979-1982, told New Era the veterans are not feeling left out, as they have a ministry to cater for them and they do appreciate what the government has done for them.
Counstituency councillors from Khorixas, Sesfontien, Opuwo Urban, Swapo representatives from various towns around Kunene, as well as traditional leaders that attended included chief Hikuminue Kapika and Kunene Regional Governor Angelika Muharukua.