Windhoek-Hundreds of Namibians from all walks of life turned up at Farm De Rust, some 40 kilometres west of Rehoboth in the Hardap Region, for the funeral of Nora Schimming-Chase on Saturday.
President Hage Geingob, First Lady Monica Geingos, Prime Minster Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) President McHenry Venaani, as well as several foreign diplomats to Namibia, were among those who braved the hot sun to pay their last respects.
At the ceremony, Schimming-Chase was honoured with a 17-gun salute by members of the Namibian Defence Force as the casket was lowered into the grave.
At the memorial service on Friday at Parliament Gardens, President Geingob described Schimming-Chase as part of a rare breed of leaders whose innate capacity for diplomacy and intellect helped shape the path towards Namibia’s independence.
“When we think of the process of emancipation in Africa, we often focus on men as freedom fighters. Our women are the mothers of our society, therefore, lest we forget, they are fighters for freedom as well,” Geingob said.
Geingob said Schimming-Chase was one of the fearless and pioneering women who forewent personal comforts to ensure independence became a reality, joining other gallant daughters of Namibia, such as Comrade Libertina Amathila and the late Putuse Appolus, in Dar Es Salaam during the 1960’s to advocate independence.
Narrating the late Schimming-Chase’s journey into exile to roughly 600 mourners who attended the state memorial service, Geingob said her apprenticeship in diplomacy began at an early stage, when she was recalled by Swanu to Dar Es Salaam to head the party’s offices in 1973, where she had formerly been secretary for education.
After independence, Schimming-Chase commenced with her service to the Government of Namibia as Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, then known as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
By July 1992 she was appointed as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Namibia to the Federal Republic of Germany, a position she served with distinction as a consummate diplomat.
In 1999, Ambassador Schimming-Chase joined the newly founded Congress of Democrats and was elected to parliament. Speaker of parliament Peter Katjavivi said Schimming-Chase was a vehement debater and always respectful of other people’s views.
Founding president Sam Nujoma, in whose government Schimming-Chase worked as ambassador, said the departed former diplomat will always be remembered for her meritorious service to her country.
“All those who knew the late Madam Ambassador Schimming-Chase, or have worked with her either in parliament or as a diploma, have described the services she rendered to our country as exceptional, and I can attest to this fact,” he said.
Nujoma thanked President Geingob’s government for conferring upon her the honour of a state funeral, pointing out that her political activism did make a difference before and after independence and she deserved a befitting official sendoff.
Schimming-Chase succumbed to cancer on February 13 at Paramount Private Hospital in Windhoek. – Additional reporting by Nampa