Tulonga Neputa is a national hero

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Bob Kandetu

May I add my voice to the nation and salute Tulonga Neputa for her deed of bravery, national commitment and for the love she expressed during an accident she came across on the road last week Thursday.

My curtain opened with a video clip appearing on the screen of my cell phone showing an accident on the road between Okahandja and Windhoek. I saw a car sliding uncontrollably into the scene of an accident. On the left side and close to the camera there was a passenger vehicle (combi) that I could see partially.

I was attracted to it by voices of ladies talking about the accident past one another. A male voice said: “quickly get the baby someone!” A woman said: “I am going to get the baby”. Someone tried to dissuade her and she said: “The car can burn anytime”. The next moment I saw a middle aged woman wearing a black tracksuit top and a pair of jeans, running along the road towards the scene of the accident.

The next clip showed her walking briskly back towards her vehicle, carrying a baby cuddled to her chest with the right arm and carrying a bag with her left hand.

This woman was the now famous Tulonga Neputa, one of Namibia’s new heroes. I sat in front of my computer trying to complete what I was doing and kept thinking about this brave young lady who has the capacity to be single minded. She helped the little strong boy out of impending danger and her instincts were correct.

When Tulonga’s colleagues tried to discourage her, Tulonga’s byline was: “The car may catch fire, look at that smoke”. It is in humility that I take this opportunity to commit my sincere sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families out of the sad accident. May the souls of the deceased remain in the hands of the Lord and May the bereaved families keep courage and be consoled?

The following day, I phoned the person who had sent me the video clip to enquire whether she had Tulonga’s number and she did give me the number. I phoned Tulonga, she was in Walvis Bay with a sports engagement and seeing that I was also in Walvis Bay, we agreed to meet at a later stage for an interview. Unfortunately we did not get to meet and we spoke on the phone.

Strong young men will stand by and watch a fight on the street, of a man beating up a woman. They will equally look on while someone who had just grabbed a bag from a helpless lady or old man like me, runs away. Equally, we would arrive at an accident and after establishing to our satisfaction that none of those involved are related or known to us, we would stand by and chat away until the police have arrived.

This is not good conduct and I commend the media for saying that Tulonga gave a good example at national love. I wish we could conceive of a youth program named after Tulonga, through which our young people will be oriented towards the spirit of nationhood and encouraged to interact beyond the cultural divide, so much so that their interaction can breed skills in daily living.

While this does not or should not matter, it is instructive to note that this was a white baby and all in Tulonga’s vehicle knew that the baby that was thrown out of the vehicle was white while all of them were possibly black. But that did not matter to them and not one of them remarked that, “but that is a white baby”. This is a wonderful foundation for any home and an example to emulate. And I trust that all of us across the colour and cultural divide did watch Tulonga’s example. Need I say more?
Tulonga has distinguished herself as a national hero.

A similar act of heroism that comes to mind played itself out at Gobabis some twenty years back when the pilot of our first Prime Minister, now President Hage Geingob, had to overfly a vehicle that appeared on tarmac as he was busy landing, a near-miss indeed to say the least. All these are split-second decisions and, Tulonga’s decision-making, as I listened to her, was a split-second decision to save a life.
Tulonga Neputa is a national hero and we must all hold hands to boost her status in our society, especially among young people who should look up to her as a role model.

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