Larger than life

Nujoma celebrates his 90th birthday at Etunda

20 May 2019 | Local News

ILENI NANDJATO



Former president Sam Nujoma had indicated he did not want to have a big 90th birthday party, due to the persistent drought that is plaguing the country.

However, the Sam Nujoma Foundation, Swapo and the business community all pitched in to organise a huge event at Nujoma’s birthplace of Etunda on Saturday, which was attended by hundreds of Namibians from all works of life.

Also in attendance were senior government officials, as well as President Hage Geingob and former head of the state Hifikepunye Pohamba.

Nujoma said the foundation and the office of the Swapo secretary-general not only spearheaded the organising, but also contributed immensely to the successful hosting of the event.

“I am aware that 90 years in a life of a person is a milestone occasion worthy of celebration, but due to the persistent drought and adverse effects of climate change, as well as the impact of unprecedented headwinds caused by the global economic downturn in the country, I did not want to have a big party this year to celebrate my 90th birthday, but a simple and modest one,” Nujoma said.

“At this juncture, allow me to thank our government under the leadership of President Geingob for declaring a national state of emergency with respect to the drought in several areas in the country, due to the shortage of rainfall experienced this year.”

Pohamba, who handed a gift of a walking stick to Nujoma, said his lifetime is worth celebrating because he drove the nation through the long journey to independence.

Nujoma was joined by his wife Kovambo, his children and other family members during the celebration.

Geingob said the country is celebrating 90 years in the life of an icon in every sense, saying Nujoma is a man defined by an innate humility, yet he possesses a disposition and an aura that is often larger than life.

“His life exploits are unforgettable and his elegance is mesmerisingly timeless. It is for this reason that comrade Nujoma’s legacy stretches across all generations, forming a bridge between the 20th and 21st centuries, between old and young, between the generation of the liberation struggle and the born-free generation. Everyone, from east to west and from north to south, can attest that our birthday boy is indeed a Namibian icon,” Geingob said.

“Under the expert leadership of comrade Nujoma, Swapo launched the struggle for independence - politically, diplomatically and militarily. It was a long, bitter and protracted struggle, but Swapo prevailed because it had firmly rooted itself as the driving force of the Namibian people’s struggle for independence.”

Geingob said Nujoma was able to galvanise party functionaries, deploying them as per their unique qualities and talents. Eventually, thanks to Swapo’s efforts of lobbying and petitioning, the international community became empathetic to the struggles of the Namibian people.

“Comrade Nujoma and others were able to expose to the world that Swapo was fighting a just cause to rid the Namibian people of the yoke of apartheid colonialism.

“As we pay tribute to this peerless comrade, this foremost lynchpin of our revolution, we acknowledge a life dedicated to freedom and humanity. In recalling the life of comrade Nujoma, I am reminded of the trip I took to Cuito Cuanavale this March, just two days after we celebrated our 29th independence anniversary,” Geingob said.

“At that inaugural commemoration of Southern African Liberation Day, we paid tribute to three iconic figures who symbolised one of the greatest military triumphs on African soil.

“I spoke of our own icon, whose extraordinary leadership and unyielding commitment to the freedom and independence of Namibia provided the motivation and driving force for thousands of brave Namibians to sacrifice their lives in the name of freedom. I said that the indomitable spirit of this icon will continue to inspire future generations of Namibians,” Geingob added.