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Namibia turns 28 years of freedom

By Simon Liseli

In the wake of Namibia’s 28th Independence anniversary on March 21, 2018 the Caprivi Vision newspaper had a face to face interview with the Zambezi regional Governor Hon. Colonel (Rtd)  Lawrence Alfea Sampofu to give an overview of how Namibia gained its independence.    

Zambezi Regional Governor Hon. Colonel (Rtd) Lawrence Alfea Sampofu

In his view Governor Sampofu said in 1884 Namibia was annexed to German with other countries in Africa that were given colonial powers to Britain, German, Portugal and Italy. “Like here in Africa, SADC countries Britain colonized Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Tanzania. Countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda were also colonized by Britain, other countries in Central Africa were colonized by France and German took Namibia” he said.

Retired Colonel Sampofu added that German also wanted to have Tanzania and part of Cameroon but later on Tanzania was given to Britain is when the Zambezi region was renamed Caprivi because Germans wanted the root that connects South West Africa to Tanzania that was called German East Africa by then before Britain came in Tanzania.

He explained that Caprivi is a name of a chancellor who was called Von Caprivi from 1886-1889. When Germans came to Namibia there was resistance because they landed at Luderitz, “there was resistance from the Namas and Hereroes that is why we have that genocide of 1904-1908 people were resisting colonialism and because our people did not have good arms to fight against Germans army who were in Namibia and they were defeated in 1908 and some of the Herero and Namas had to cross the boarders to Botswana and South Africa” he noted.

Independence was wanted by Africans like Nkwame Nkuruma of Egypt, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda for Zambia, Julius Nyerere and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya all those were people who led African people to mobilize to shake the colonial chance for people to gain independence.

In Namibia Father of the nation Dr. Sam Nujoma started to organize with other Namibians such as the late Hermann Andimba Toivo ya Toivo and many others to mobilize the entire Namibian nation to resist colonialism.

“Firstly, negotiation started around the table so that the South Africans gives us our independence but South Africans did not understand that language is why SWAPO decided to form up an army that was called South West Africa Liberation Army (SWALA) from 1966-1972 and because of SWA the name was changed, in 1968 the name Namibia came in and SWALA was changed to People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), army which was created in 1966” explained hon. Sampofu.

In 1959 the founding father of the Namibian nation Dr. Sam Nujoma left the country via Botswana to Tanzania and then to the world where he started mobilizing for support for the liberation and independence of Namibia and the army was created with the voice of the Namibian people to fight against the South African regime which was colonizing the country.

The first battle of liberators was at Ongulumbashe where there is shrine to day in Omusati region in the north of Namibia and most of the battles were fought in the Zambezi region from 1968-1979.

“Some of us joined PLAN in 1975 and we also continued fighting here in Zambezi from Singalamwe, Kamenga to Katima Mulilo and we destroyed many camps at Kamenga Nukwa and we attacked Katima Mulilo twice in 1977 and the biggest attack was on 23rd of August 1978 which was known by everyone and the aim was to gain independence for people to have freedom for controlling our economy, political affairs of our country and have social freedom to do what ever you want” remarked the governor.

Asked to shade some lights on what happened during those years when they were fighting he has this to say “what happened firstly Namibians were organized to go into exile and form up a strong army which was supported by communist or socialist countries of the east by that time which is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) today Russia Federation after other countries have break down in 1989” he added.

Support countries gave Namibia weapons, ammunition and different calipers to carry out with their struggle effectively. The countries also supported liberators with uniforms, boots, food, scholarships and clothes for people who were in SWAPO camps in both Angola and Zambia.

How did you join the liberation struggle and how old were you?

“I was studying at Caprivi Secondary School and then politics started as we used to listen to SWAPO Radio which was broadcasting from Lusaka in the hostel because there was someone who had a radio where we used to listen from 22H00 evening, we started to mobilise ourselves, other schools and some youth even some teachers and other workers is how we went in mass and that time when we met in Livingstone we were almost 500 from Zambezi region and at that time I was 20 years old by then. I was even arrested here by the South African police with other colleagues of mine like the late Lovemore Lupalezwi, late Chris Mazila, and late Bartholomew Mwalapapi, comrade Ntelamo and Bernard Kalokela because of mobilization and after we were released we spent only one day then we left the country to join PLAN and SWAPO in exile”

After training in Zambia in September governor Sampofu with many others were brought back in the Caprivi Strip where they started fighting up to 1978 after Katima Mulilo attack and was chosen with other nine comrades for further military training in Tanzania and came back to Lusaka in June 1979. In August the same year they were transferred to Angola where he stayed for ten years.

Why the struggle took so long?     

“The struggle took so long because the South African had a strong army and we as PLAN combatants had to carry our arms and ammunitions and those one had military vehicles and plains but since we were determined at our independence we had to fight against that army and we were giving very strong attacks and they were also strong is why the struggle had protracted so long”

How the United Nation (UN) did come in?  

We as a liberation movement we were fighting three fronts, we had a political front which was mobilizing the world to support the movement, diplomatic front was engaged in negotiations with South Africa to come to table because they were refusing to talk but the military front was forcing them and the UN were supporting up to date they are still supporting and recognized SWAPO as the sole and owner representative of the Namibian people and as such many negotiations were conducted”.

According to him , War intensified in the front line and military zones so much that with the battle of Quito quanavale that the apartheid South Africans were crushed and many of their soldiers died in mass and that time PLAN combatants were together with Cuban forces matching towards the boarders. First negotiations were held in the United States of America (USA), second in Equatorial Guinea, in Namibia and Angola.

The registration of people in exile started in 1988 and on 12 June 1989 the first group entered into Namibia and first elections were conducted in November 1989 for the independence of Namibia which were won by the ruling SWAPO party and the first president Dr. Sam Nujoma was sworn in on 21 March 1990, and he served for third term after the Constitution of The Republic of Namibia was amended in 1999. He was then succeeded by Dr. Hifikepunye Pohamba and then the current president Dr. Hage Geingob who took office as the sitting president on 21 March 2015.