n Albertina Nakale
Windhoek – Namibia and Angola have finally sealed the deal to construct shrines at the two then Swapo refugee camps in Angola where thousands of Namibians were attacked and killed by apartheid South African troops in 1978.
The Angolan President Joao Lourenço and Namibian President Hage Geingob during the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Cassinga massacre
had announced plans to construct two monuments in the localities of Cassinga in Huíla Province and Chetequera in Cunene Province in the near future to honour the victims of the Cassinga massacre, perpetrated by the South African Defence Force against a Namibian refugee camp on May 4, 1978.
After 40 years since the Cassinga massacre, which affirmed one of the worst war crimes in the world, the governments of Angola and Namibia had acknowledged the need to exhibit a dignified resting place for Cassinga massacre victims.
Lourenço had been in Namibia also to attend the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Cassinga massacre.
Geingob did not reveal any monetary figures on how the project would be funded, saying money is not important when people have lost their lives.
He said the important agreement on the construction of historical monuments would pave the way for both countries to finalise the completion of these historical monuments at these sacred sites, which are symbols of the blood, sweat and tears which water the historic and permanent bond between the two countries.
The Cassinga attack, which occurred on May 4, 1978, was the second major military operation of the then apartheid South African army in Angola after ‘Operation Savannah,’ and among the dead were unarmed women and children.
It also targeted Swapo refugees at Chetequera, in Cunene Province of Angola.
After the Cassinga commemoration, the Minister of Safety and Security, Charles Namoloh, who accompanied a group of Cassinga/Chetequera survivors to Angola to visit the sites joined his counterpart, Minister of National Defense Salviano de Jesus Sequeira, to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which aims to foster the joint construction of the monuments at the Swapo refugee camps Cassinga and Vietnam (Chetequera) in Angola, as a memorial to the victims of what is recognized as the Cassinga massacre of May 4, 1978.
The MoU was signed on May 13 during the commemoration of the massacre at Cassinga. The bilateral agreement serves as a commitment by the two states to create some memorial sites symbolising the common struggle against South African colonial forces.
The process to construct the shrines is expected to commence soon.
According to the MoU, both countries have to commit resources and set modalities that would swiftly preside over the construction of the monuments to honour and preserve the memories of the fallen heroes and heroines massacred in the two refugee camps.
Namoloh said the bilateral agreement on the construction of the two memorial sites demonstrates the commitment of the two neighbouring states to further strengthen their cooperation as well as to preserve the shared history for future generations.
“The signing of this agreement is a manifestation of the longstanding relations of friendship and solidarity forged by over many years of common struggle against apartheid and colonialism by Namibia and Angola,” Namoloh said.
Sequeira said the joint financial commitment stipulated in the MoU indicates a strong commitment of the leaders from both countries to keep alive the event that marks the bond of the two nations and that made possible the dream and the belief of freedom.
He said: “The commitment to build together two monuments in the villages of Cassinga in Huila Province and Chetequera in Cunene Province is a firm decision that consolidates our cooperation and brotherhood.”
Caption (Pic; Cassinga monuments):