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Their blood waters our freedom: who, when and why was it necessary?

By Nkrumah Mushelenga
History is the best judge whose verdict cannot be ignored or set aside. It is a fundamental principle that all Ex-Freedom Fighters of countries that were liberated through a combination of protracted political and bloody armed struggles, have after liberating their countries, established and indeed formed exfreedom fighters associations in their respective countries.

Namibian heroes and heroines are not exceptional. Thanks to the SWAPO PARTY Government and the SWAPO PARTY leadership for having tabled a bill on the establishment of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs a bill which in turn became an Act of Parliament that empowers the Ministry to recognize veterans association.

Hence the 01 of September 2010 is a remarkable day in the history of the veterans of the Namibian liberation struggle. It is a date on which the Namibian National Liberation Veterans Association was formally recognized as the authentic representatives of the veterans of the Namibian liberation struggle. We would like from the bottom of our hearts to sincere thank the President of the Republic and of the SWAPO PARTY and his Cabinet for the moral, financial and material support we have been receiving and continues to receive.

It is a fact, that the people of this great nation, under the leadership of SWAPO PARTY, through its then military wing, the People's Liberation Army of Namibia PLAN have bravely waged a decisive combination of both the armed and diplomatic struggle to liberate our mother and father land Namibia from the then colonial occupation and exploitation. This was the most hated system, which was characterized by racial oppression and economic exploitation It is against this background, that Namibia is today and forever going to be known as the "land of the brave, whose blood waters our freedom".

While preparing for a protracted diplomatic and armed struggle, the SWAPO PARTY national leadership knew that with the ongoing intensification of both diplomatic and armed struggle at both battle fields, Namibian's independence was just around the corner. It is precisely against this background that a number of departments were established to ensure that all administrative issues were taken care of and that those who were responsible for the day to day administration and operational activities should, at independence, have accumulated skills and knowledge in the areas of their jurisdictions to fill the remaining gaps at both administration and operational levels of government structures.

The Party leadership knew that for Namibia to succeed as a new nation, we need to ensure that there is a sustainable national patriotic political orientation, sustainable social-economic development, sustainable respect and honoring of cultural diversity and most importantly embracing and respect of human and environment security. For this to take place, the priority was to ensure capacity building in the areas of skills and expertise development.

As a result, the following departments were established; Education; Health; Defence; Foreign Affairs; Labor; Legal Affairs, Information and Publicity and Protocol, just to mention a few.

I started by saying that "history is the best judge whose verdict cannot be set aside." The issue is who are the heroes and heroines, in terms of the Namibian liberation struggle context? During his interview with the Windhoek Observer dated 30/08/2012 comrade Minister of Defence, General Charles Namoloh, was quoted to have defined a hero or heroine as "persons who have contributed and sacrificed themselves for the struggle in order to liberate the people of Namibia, adding that those were the criteria he used when considering individual heroes" The two core words "contributed and sacrificed are, in my view. too general to be understood, and can therefore, be miss-interested to suit individual interest. In fact, the words "contributed and scarified" speak volumes, because they are inclusive of every body who by virtue of his or her enormous heroically contribution to SWAPO PARTY programmes through dedicated party structures (departments) should have been qualified as a hero or heroine of the liberation struggle and he or she was supposed to be decorated with a "liberation medal" as proof that he or she has heroically contributed to and sacrificed for the independence of mother Namibia.

Interestingly, General Martin Shalli who was one of the many senior PLAN commanders who had sustainably and courageously provided us with innovative military strategies during the bitter and protracted armed struggle was also interviewed by the Windhoek Observer on the 30 August 2012 and had this to say. "It is difficult to define who a hero is, because different people have different heroes" It is true that heroes and heroines are not only from military points of view.

Heroes and heroines are characterized by the sector in which they had acted in a manner in which the nation had acknowledged their contribution and sacrifices they have made for the benefit of the country and its people. In fact, we do not need to beat about the bush, or to look around as to who our heroes and heroines are, because such honors have already been conferred on all the veterans of the liberation struggle through our national anthem and the dignified acknowledgement " land of the brave."

That genuine characteristic is already inclusive in our national anthem, "their blood waters our freedom" and indeed the designation of Namibia as a land of the brave" The difficulties is how to measure sacrifices, but the question is how do you characterized a comrade, who has lost part of his or her body at the battle field by enemy bullets?

A comrade who has sacrificed his or her live carrying out his or her clarion call in prison, battle field and at diplomatic level? And most importantly, how do you characterize a Plan Combatant who is today in independent Namibia unable to get a job because of age group and that he, or she spent most of the time at the battle field to liberate Namibia, the land of the brave?

The issue that is bothering us, is the persistent question we are being asked by our children and grand children "who are those whose blood waters our freedom"? The next question is always why Namibia is acknowledged as the land of the brave and who are the braves and where are they? I started by asking the following questions, whose blood waters our freedom? When did it happen? and why was it necessary to shed blood?

Let me to quote some of the provisions of the Preamble of the Constitution of Namibia. "Whereas we the people of Namibia have finally emerged victorious in our struggle against colonialist, racism and apartheid; are determined to adopt a Constitution which expresses for ourselves and our children our resolve to cherish and protect the gains of our long struggle; desire to promote amongst all of us the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Namibian nation among and in association with the nations of the world; and strive to achieve national reconciliation and to foster peace, unity and a common loyalty to a single state"

This is a clarion call to all of us, and a reminder to all peace loving Namibian patriots to ensure that we are the masters of our political, socio-economic, cultural and human and environment security. In other word, we can together set the Namibian standard without necessary photo-copying definitions that may not characterize, or depict the past, present and future roadmap of the land of the brave. A typical example of heroism is the patriotic role played by the then 1974, SWAPO 100 PLAN Combatants Volunteers.

Their presence was vital for the growth of PLAN, not only in number, but also served as a shield to protect the young men and women who volunteered themselves to come and join the then South West Africa People's Organization SWAPO of Namibia and its Military Wing the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). We went into Angola as volunteers because we believed that we had by then received the most sophisticated military training and modern military equipments superior to that of the enemy inside Namibia to intensify the battle against the enemy and bring an end to colonial occupation. Here are some of the key roles played by the Plan Combatants Volunteers during the 1974- 76, period both in Southern Angola and Northern Namibia;

1. Receiving and protecting new arrivals, the sons and daughters who have entered Angola to join the SWAPO PARTY and its Military Wing Plan, who could have forced by circumstances to joined UNITA because, of her geographical strategic occupation of some parts of Southern Angola.

2. To pave the way for military combat engagement between PLAN Combatants and the then occupation enemy forces

3. To provide technical training on both intelligence information gathering and as confidence- building measures, conveyer belt between those inside and Plan combatants.

4. To encourage the young Namibians to voluntary join the Liberation movement and its military wing Plan, just to mention a few.

Who are those heroes and heroines? Below are some of the names lists of some of the comrades who have opted not to go for further military training, or academic training, but rather to volunteer themselves to go to the front and engage the enemy at the battle field. Why are they classified as volunteers?

Because by the time we completed with our first military training in Oshatotwa southern Zambia, our might SWAPO PARTY had already organized various further military academic training and skills and expertise courses in countries such as the then Soviet Union, People's Republic of China and Kongwa, United Republic of Tanzania. It is also true that those who opt to go for further study most them, became PhDs holders .and academics, while those who opted to go to the front to intensify the armed struggle, some of them became military captains of industry in the military fields.

Comrades Elias Hambambi
Combat name ( Tulonga) unit commander
Elias Nujoma
Oiva Nakale
Israel Shipepe Nakutemwa)
Samuel Mushelenga
Ben Kamule
Max Kanandunge
Johannes Mweendi
Darius Mbolondondo
Ben Nangolo
Gideon Katokele
Titus Hainana
Titus Hango
Vilho Muunda
David Mbandeka
Serverinus Hamukwaya
Mupopiwa Shimbungu
Thomas Jet fighter
Niilo Taapopi
Termus Alwendo
Festus Anyala
Anania Elago
Ruben Iitengula
Shikuma Shakamati
Tuweefeni Mlukeni
Etuna Shiyagaya
Listo Nakwafila
David Shikesho
Leonard Nambahu
Nkrumah Mushelenga
Munashimwe Forman
David Thigenipo
Ben Mutembi
Ndemwimba Hihambo
Medusalem Ambole
Lucas P. Hangula
Lameka Hamutwe
Ndengeing Kahenge
Herman Nambala
John Hangula
John Hamushila
Thomas Iitamalo
Peter Shiyamba
Petrus Mathias
Pinehas Iiyambo
Nangolo Dhomundonga
Hapulile Neto
Ponhele ya Frans
Philimoni Malima
Jeckson Nantango Kelegenye
John Shiponga Negumbo
John ya Kanandjembo
Negonga Londundu
Matias Shamora
Jona Shingenge
Kafita Forward
Phelep Hainana
Martin Mukete
Shikuma Kamati

It is important to respect and honor the principles of generations, in other word, if we want to have a dignified inclusive definition of who is a hero or heroine, than our indicators should be inclusive of first, second and third generations. It reams a fact that all of us who stood firm during the bitter and protracted armed and diplomatic struggle whether outside, or inside the country, we value our contributions and scarifies, as equal to that of a hero or a heroine of the liberation struggle. We believe that the roles plied by SWAPO PARTY members through during our protracted bitter struggle and through the then Party national structures such as the Departments of defence, information, education, health, labour, foreign affairs, legal affairs and that of Protocol have contributed significantly to the speedy decolonization of mother Namibia.

The current trends of defining who a hero or, heroine is, is characterized by a high degree of alienation and non inclusiveness, hence, a recommendation for a creation of a national based structure to craft inclusive characteristics as reflected in our national anthem 'their blood waters our freedom" and the dignified designation of mother land Namibia, as "the land of the brave"





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