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Family without father

By Iita Jarno Pandeni
On behalf of my mother, Meme Julia and my siblings, it is with humility and profound gratitude that I stand before you here today as we gather to mark this important and historic occasion. Most important, I stand here as testimony of my father’s legacy.

I would like at the beginning to offer our gratitude to Your Execllency, Dr. Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the republic of Namibia and to your Excellency the Founding Father, Dr. Sam Nujoma for your support during the difficult period in our life.

The story of my father is a story of sacrifices. It is a story of giving to others. My father stood unwaveringly through the test of time to see that freedom and justice being achieved. Therefore, it is befitting of such a giant to be honored in this way.

The renaming of this research centre could very well attest to the qualities that my father lived for. Above all our family is glad at the decision by government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to rename this centre after him.

To many people, my father is a hero, and I fully agree with them, but to us he was just an ordinary, down to earth and a very special person working hard to meet the challenges of everyday life. Eventually, his efforts touched the lives of other people.

As I was travelling here from Windhoek, I thought about the beautiful moments my siblings and I shared with our dad. I thought about what he personally went through many years before we were even born. The pain and torture he experienced in Robben Island, many of us cannot even begin to imagine.

I can recall back in 2006, when my late father took us on a trip to Robben Island to show us what he went through. Yesterday as I began my journey to this place, I could not help it but I was taken back into an emotional memory lane. Because I exactly undertook the same journey that my dad took before he passed on. My dad’s departure from us was too soon. I tried to imagine life without him. The past three years were the most difficult times of our life. Because the struggle of everyday life without our champion of hope became more difficult as we had to wonder without his emotional, spiritual and financial support.

My voice speaks for my dad. It is a voice of sons and a daughter coming to terms with the reality going through life without our father. It is also a voice becoming aware of the environment and the realities of today’s world. As we remember the history of our fallen heroes. We should hold on to the memories.

That spirit that gave us strength to fight for our independence should be the same spirit that carries us today. It was in those moments of trying to come to terms with the reality, that I found my voice.

Today we came here to renew our hope in a man who lived for others. John Pandeni’s life was all about, commitment, dedication and giving. His life should remind us of much work that still need to be done in order to make Namibia a better country. We must say that ‘If the development of our country is moving FAST, then it must move FASTER. The word ‘Best’ should never be good enough because there is still the word ‘excellent’. Our heroes most of whom are among us today, did not sacrifice their lives for us to hide behind keywords such as, “feasibility studies” or “to expensive”.

We sometimes hide behind these words in order to find reasons for not doing anything. For example, if some sectors don’t want to carry out a particular project, they delay it by giving reasons that, they need to first do a pre-feasibility study, followed by a feasibility study and later on followed by a viability study. And by the time they finish, that’s if they even finish, its’ after four years.

Let us ask ourselves one tough question. Which is, before His Excellency comrade Nujoma and His Excellency comrade Pohamba and many of our heroes among us today, including my late father, when they started the fight for our liberation, why is it that there was no feasibility study done first to see whether liberating Namibia was viable. And if they had done the feasibility study, could it have been possible to fight against the entire South African apartheid forces which was backed by the western powers of USA, Canada, Great Britain, France and West Germany, when all they had at the time was simple traditional bows and arrows. This therefore proves to us that sometimes these technical words are designed to keep us from moving forward.

We surly lost a father, the country lost a leader, Cabinet lost an Executive member, Parliament lost a law maker, SWAPO Party Central committee and Politibureau lost a member, my mother lost a husband, Tatekulu and Mekulu lost a son and the list goes on. These are challenges that we all have to live with.

His legacy leaves forever. And as Namibians we will always remember his life. We overcame the impossible. And I am sure we can achieve so much more. Therefore, on behalf of my mother, siblings and the entire family, with honor, Your Excellency President Pohamba we say, thank you very much. And through you to your government, specifically the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and your mighty team, words alone cannot express the joy we feel today.

We encourage you to continue giving this excellent service to the farmers. This will inform them and broaden the farming skills and technique.





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