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Birthday wishes for the Founding President and Father of the nation

By Paul T. Shipale
On the second celebration of the "12 MAY MOVEMENT", I wish to add my voice and convey heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to the Founding President of our Republic and Father of our Nation, H.E. Dr Sam Nujoma, on the occasion of his 84th birthday, as all of us mark this historic milestone.

H.E. Dr Sam Nujoma has been the torchbearer on the African continent, the fountain of hope to millions of the oppressed and exploited masses of our people, a colossal giant whose track record in the struggle is unparalleled anywhere in this country. This celebration therefore certainly serves as an illustrious milestone for the whole country because we are actually celebrating not just his birthday but an institution, which is an organic expression of the collective struggles of our people initially led by our traditional leaders, as they resisted wars against dispossession of land.

The history of the workers' struggles in our country would be extremely incomplete without the leadership role of H.E. Dr Nujoma. As we celebrate his birthday, we are bound to recall the history of oppression, enforced segregation, forced removals, police brutality and killings, countless massacres spreading over many decades. We remember the persecution and absolute humiliation.

We remember the filthy fleeridden single-sex hostels. We recall the humiliating queues of older and younger men standing for inspection in the mines.

We are celebrating an icon that came to understand that our revolution must defeat three interrelated and antagonistic contradictions - of national oppression, of the workers exploitation and gender oppression. He understood that black people's oppression was not only based on their colour, but was equally a function of the inherent exploitative nature of the colonial system. He understood that African women faced triple oppression in their homes, in society and in the workplace and therefore sought to resolve the three interrelated contradictions and was able to provide a rich dialectical synthesis of the concrete national, workers and gender contradictions in his articulations. He is not only a progressive and left leaning leader in words for mere window dressing. His actions and articulation reinforce him as a pro-poor anti-imperialist liberation icon.

We are also celebrating a struggle, whose collective experience is embodied in the person of H.E. Dr Nujoma when he helped to defeat one of the most potent armies in southern Africa.

We are celebrating the triumph over the tribal divisions, regionalism and male chauvinism. Even though all of these divisive demons keep on rearing their ugly heads from time to time in our national politics, there can be no doubt that the cohesion and unity we are currently enjoying owes a great deal to the dynamic leadership of H.E. Dr Nujoma and the solid foundation he laid.

On this occasion, we join hands with the rest of the continent to salute and honour him together with some of Africa's foremost distinguished anti-colonial leaders of the continental struggle such as Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Haille Selassie of Ethiopia, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Ahmed Sékou Touré of Guinea, Modibo Keďta of Mali, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Mmandi Azikiwe and General Murtala Mohamed of Nigeria, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Dr. Augostino Neto of Angola, Samora Machel of Mozambique, Amical Cabral of Guinea Bissau, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and many others.

Indeed, Dr Nujoma left Namibia in 1960, crossing into the then Bechuanaland and from there, travelling to the then Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia until he arrived in the then British colony of Tanganyika, on March 21 1960. Coincidentally, March 21 was the same day that our country attained its Independence, 40 years later. He arrived in independent Ghana in April 1960 where he met President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, among other African leaders who left a lasting impression on him and informed his Pan-African outlook. From Ghana he arrived in New-York and stayed there for the rest of the year petitioning the UN, arguing that South West Africa- Namibia should be given its independence by 1963 at the latest. Little did he know again that this year on May 25 the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) will be established in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and he is one of those African liberation icons who were at that historic occasion, which qualifies him as one of the Founding Fathers of the OAU. In this regard, I understand that former President Kenneth Kaunda will be honoured by the African Union (AU) in May this year on the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Organisation of African Union (OAU). H.E. Dr Nujoma equally deserves to be honoured with an award, in recognition of his efforts in the liberation not only of southern Africa but also for removing the last vestiges of colonialism from Africa as a whole.

Dr Nujoma promised to liberate us and he stuck to that promise with tenacity until we witnessed the ushering in of political freedom in our lifetime. Since our independence, Dr Nujoma has led a new struggle to replace apartheid colonialism with a new order, starting with the clarion proclamation when he moved to declare to the world that Namibia is forever free, sovereign and independent!

Today, the majority who were not there when these undying words were ushered are enjoying and making sense of these words of wisdom. Under his leadership, we have made tremendous strides in building a better life for all our people and as we celebrate his birthday, we shall be celebrating a range of progressive laws.

We shall be celebrating improved healthcare. We shall be celebrating improved access to education.

We shall be celebrating the fact that many of our people have a roof above their heads while many more receive support from government in the form of grants without which they will simply die of starvation. Like him or hate him, there will be no other Sam Nujoma. He has defined his place in our country's history. This is the man Namibians hold in esteem. He provided decisive leadership in the crucible of the armed struggle. The victories of H.E. Dr Nujoma are countless.

He founded a liberation movement, he built a political party, he sustained a political party and mobilized the nation and the international community, he fought a liberation war during the difficult period of the cold-war, and he liberated our country and founded a nation in addition to leading it.

Furthermore, peace was brought to Angola and the sovereignty of the DRC was restored when Unita bandits were defeated, and the banditry attacks in DRC were stopped. Namibia settled a border dispute peacefully with its Neighbor Botswana and the secessionists were dealt with, all these under his able leadership. These are milestones achievements! He initiated Vision 2030 and By M'kwanailya wa Mweuta after 15 years in power, on the 21 March 2005, the Founding President Nujoma, formally handed over the reins of State power to his successor and eighteen months later, he relinquished the Presidency of the SWAPO Party, an organization he led for a good 47 years, handing over the reins of power to his successor, His Excellency Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba. During that historical occasion, Dr. Nujoma had the following to say: "I am stepping down as President of SWAPO PARTY with a full sense of fulfillment. I am proud to have worked with the entire leadership of SWAPO. Collectively, we have steered SWAPO through immense challenges, some of which might have seemed insurmountable. There were internal contradictions, most often driven by tribalistic, power hungry, unpatriotic and selfless individuals. In all these challenges, SWAPO preserved, survived and emerged even stronger."

In this regard, we remember the words of the African thinker Amical Cabral in his Address titled "The weapons of theory" delivered at the first Tri-continental Conference of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America held in Havana, Cuba in January, 1966, when he said: When the African peoples say in their simple language that "no matter how hot the water from your well, it will not cook your rice," they express with singular simplicity a fundamental principle, not only of physics, but also of political science. We know that the development of a phenomenon in movement, whatever its external appearance, depends mainly on its internal characteristics. We also know that on the political level our own reality — however fine and attractive the reality of others may be — can only be transformed by detailed knowledge of it, by our own efforts, by our own sacrifices. Then Cabral presented his opinion on the foundations and objectives of national liberation in relation to the social structure and showed a fundamental preoccupation with struggle. One form of struggle which he considered to be fundamental is the struggle against our own weaknesses. According to him, experience has shown that in the general framework of daily struggle this battle against ourselves is the most difficult of all, whether for the present or the future of our peoples. This battle is the expression of the internal contradictions in the economic, social, cultural (and therefore historical) reality of each of our countries. Therefore he was convinced that any national or social revolution which is not based on knowledge of this fundamental reality runs grave risk of being condemned to failure.

Cabral further argued that the ideological deficiency, not to say the total lack of ideology, within the national liberation movements — which is basically due to ignorance of the historical reality which these movements claim to transform — constituted one of the greatest weaknesses of our struggle against imperialism, if not the greatest weakness of all. To those who see this as theory, Cabral argued, "we would recall that every practice produces a theory and that nobody has yet made a successful revolution without a revolutionary theory".

In this regard, in the motive force of history, the factor that stands out is the mode of production, meaning, the level of productive forces and the pattern of ownership.

In a given socio-economic set-up, whatever its level of productive forces and present social structure, a society can pass rapidly through the defined stages appropriate to the concrete local realities (both historical and human) and reach a higher stage of existence.

This progress depends on the concrete possibilities of development of the society's productive forces and is governed mainly by the nature of the political power ruling the society, that is to say, by the type of state or, if one likes, by the character of the dominant class or classes within the society. One can therefore conclude that as long as the means of production are in the hands of others who are unwilling to change, we will remain hewers of woods and drawers of water perpetually.

For this reason, our task is to preach unity, unity and more unity to own the means of production, including our god given natural resources and land through the second phase of the struggle for economic independence. We must, together, defeat the takeover of crass materialism in our ranks and society, greed, unbridled fraud and corruption. We must emulate the legacy of Dr Nujoma and defend the gains of our country from those hell bent on putting it on the back foot and create instabilities through tribalism, regionalism and divisions. Only the unity of Africans, as one nation, will ensure steady progress and yield a robust modernity and sustained economy rooted in African history and perspectives. Phambili nechimurenga! Amandla! Aluta Continua! Patria O Muerte, Venceremos! Forward with the second phase of the struggle for economic independence!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper but solely reflect my personal views as a citizen.


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura