FOUNDING FATHER OF THE NAMIBIAN NATION
His Excellency Dr. Sam Nujoma, Founding President of the Republic of Namibia was born on 12 May 1929 at the Etunda village, Omusati Region in the North Western part of Namibia , to Daniel Uutoni Nujoma and Helvi Mpingana Kondombolo. He is the first born in a family of 11 whereby like all boys of those days, he looked after his parents cattle and assisted at home with general work including the cultivation of land.
He received his primary education from the Okahao Finnish Mission School from 1937-1945. In the year 1946 he moved to the coastal town of Walvisbay to live with his aunt Gebhart Nandjule, where in 1947 at the age of 17 he begun his first employment at a general store for a monthly salary of 10 Shillings. It was in Walvis Bay that he got exposed to modern world politics by meeting soldiers from Argentina , Norway and other parts of Europe who had been brought there during World War II. Soon after, at the beginning of 1949 Dr Sam Nujoma went to live in Windhoek with his uncle Hiskia Kondombolo. In Windhoek he started working for the South African Railways and attended adult night school at St. Barnabas in the Windhoek Old Location. He further studied for his junior Certificate through correspondence at the Trans-Africa correspondence college in South Africa .
On 6 May 1956, Dr. Nujoma got married to Kovambo Theopoldine Katjimune. They went on to have 4 children: Utoni Daniel (1952), John Ndeshipanda (1955), Sakaria Nefungo (1957) and Nelago (1959), whom passed away at 18 months sadly while Dr Nujoma was in exile. To date Dr. Nujoma and his wife have been blessed with ( ) grandchildren.
With a deep passion for politics and the yearning to see his people living in a free Namibia whereby they didn't have to be restricted due to the pass law system and confined according to Ethnic groupings, Dr Nujoma resigned from the South African Railways in 1957 at the age of 29 with the purpose of devoting his time to politics. In 1959, he was elected Leader of the Owambo People's Organization (OPO) that aimed at ending the then contract system and ending the South African colonial administration by placing South West Africa ( Namibia ) under the UN Trusteeship system. Through this, Dr. Nujoma petitioned the UN in the late fifties, together with Chief Hosea Kutako, Samuel Witbooi, Theophilus Hamutumbangela, Toivo ya Toivo and others demanding that the then South West Africa be placed under the UN Trusteeship system.
Subsequently, Dr. Nujoma together with Uatja Kaukuetu of SWANU and Moses Garoeb, the late Minister of Labour and others, organized resistance against the forcible removal of the inhabitants of the Old Location to the new township of Katutura, which was based on the apartheid policy. This culminated in the massacre of 12 innocent unarmed persons and wounding many others on the 10 th December 1955.
After the massacre, he was arrested and charged for organizing the resistance. By the directive of OPO leadership and in collaboration with Chief Hosea Kutako, he went into exile on 1 March 1960, via the then British Bechuanaland protectorate and with the assistance of Daniel Munamava he had been able to cross the borders of Bechuanaland , Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, Tanganyika , Kenya and Sudan . In April 1960, he attended the All African People's Conference organized by President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana against the French Atom Bomb test in the Sahara Desert .
After Ghana Dr. Sam Nujoma went to Liberia and finally reached the USA in June 1960 and petitioned before the UN Fourth Committee of the General Assembly demanding the end of the South African colonial administration of SWA. In the meanwhile, the South West Africa People's Organization was formed on the 19 April 1960 and Dr. Nujoma was elected as the President of the movement in absentia. In March 1966, in a bid to test South Africa 's claims at the International Court of Justice at the Hague that Namibians in exile were free to return, Nujoma, accompanied by President Hifikepunye Pohamba, chartered a plane to Windhoek . On arrival at the airport, they were arrested and deported to Zambia on 21 March 1966.
Dr. Nujoma transported the first weapons that were to be used at launching of armed struggle on 26 August 1966 from Algeria via Egypt , Sudan , Tanzania and Zambia , from where they were taken inside the country to Omugulugwombashe in Uukwaluudhi District in Omusati Region. This marked the launching of the armed struggle on 26 August 1966. Since Namibia 's independence, this event has been commemorated annually as part of Heroes' Day on 26 August.
Dr. Nujoma represented Namibia at the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement on 1 September 1961 in Belgrade Yugoslavia as well as at the founding of the OAU in Addis Ababa on 25 May 1963. In 1971, he was the first leader of an African nationalist movement to address the UN Security Council in New York leading to the UN General Assembly passing a Resolution declaring SWAPO as the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian People.
From 1977/78, Dr. Nujoma led the SWAPO negotiations team between the Western Five Contact group and South Africa on the one hand, and the Frontline States, Nigeria, and SWAPO on the other, which culminated in the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 435 (1978). Thereafter on 19 March 1989, the signing of the cease-fire agreement with South Africa took place, which resulted in the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 435.
In Namibia 's first democratic elections for a Constituent Assembly, SWAPO gained a majority and
Dr. Sam Nujoma was elected to the Constituent Assembly. On 16 February 1990, he was unanimously elected by the National Assembly as the first President of the Republic of Namibia . President Nujoma was sworn in as the First President of the Republic of Namibia and Commander-in-Chief of the Namibian Defence Force on 21 March 1990. He was popularly re-elected for two more terms of office in 1994 and 1999 respectively, in recognition of his wise and dynamic leadership. Through his leadership, SWAPO adopted the Policy of National Reconciliation under the motto: ONE NAMIBIA, ONE NATION. He successfully united all Namibians into a peaceful, tolerant and democratic society governed by the rule of law.
In recognition of his dedication to his selfless sacrifice to the national liberation struggle and nation building, the Parliament of the Republic of Namibia enacted legislation in April 2005, declaring him the Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation. He stepped down on 21 March 2005, handing over the reigns of power to his successor His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
After leading and serving as leader of the SWAPO PARTY for 47 years, Dr. Nujoma stepped down as the first President of the Party on 30 November 2007 handing over the reigns of power to his successor, His Excellency Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the SWAPO-Party. During the 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.”
During his lifetime, Dr. Nujoma was awarded honours and awards for his outstanding leadership, courage and total commitment towards the creation of a non-racial society in Namibia . Among many following are a few of awards that he received:
- The Lenin Peace Prize in 1973 from the then USSR
- Honorary Doctorate of Law (1982) from the Ahmadu Bello University , Zaria Nigeria
- Ho Chi Minh Peace Award (1988) Vietnam
- Honorary Doctorate Degree of Law (1990) from the Lincoln University , USA
- Honorary Doctorate Degree of Education, Honoris Causa (1993) from the University of Namibia where he was sworn as the founding Chancellor of the University of Namibia . Dr. Nujoma still serves as the Chancellor of the University of Namibia.
- Masters Degree in Geology, (2009) from the University of Namibia