Calls for 12 May holiday
Founding president Sam Nujoma's 89th birthday was celebrated in style at his home village of Etunda in the Omusati Region on Saturday.
14 May 2018 | Events
These were the sentiments of some people who attended Nujoma's 89th birthday celebration at his home village of Etunda in the Omusati Region on Saturday.
Thousands of people from all walks of life attended the festivities, including President Hage Geingob who described Nujoma as an iconic revolutionary leader.
“I think it is time for the day to be formalised and made a public holiday. If South Africa managed to have their Nelson Mandela Day in honour of the late Nelson Mandela, we can also do so because the founding president is one of the outstanding heroes of this country. Also people should not take leave from work every year to attend this very important day,” Jacob Amutenya told Namibian Sun.
Amutenya said he was impressed by the fact that people of all ages turned up for the celebration.
Another attendee, Thikameni Uugwanga, also called for 12 May to be declared public holiday, saying that it would be a befitting honour to Nujoma for the role he played during the liberation struggle and as Namibia's first president.
“I concur with those that are calling for the day to be turned into a public holiday because we will be able to explain the purpose of this day to our children with pride,” Uugwanga said.
Former Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary Elijah Ngurare spoke of how the SPYL started the '12 May Movement' to celebrate the role Nujoma played in the liberation struggle and for war veterans and other parents to sit down with their children and inculcate the values of patriotism, nationalism, hard work, simplicity and humility in them.
“When we started in 2012, it was because of what we wanted to see in our generation, you and I, working as nationalists the same way Hendrik Witbooi wanted to help Nehale lya Mpingana because the struggle was the same,” Ngurare said.
Ngurare said the first celebration of the 12 May Movement took place at Swakopmund in Erongo Region but the next one was more successful at Okatana village in the Oshana Region in 2013, as many attended it including former president Hifikepunye Pohamba.
After the hosting of the event at Okatana, the Swapo Party leadership decided to make it a national event, which the SPYL agreed to.
However, on Saturday questions were asked as to why this year's event was organised by the Sam Nujoma Foundation instead of by the party.
Nujoma said in his speech that his birthday celebration was hosted by the Sam Nujoma Foundation in conjunction with members of the business fraternity.
When approached for comment, the chairperson of the Sam Nujoma Foundation, Nahas Angula, said they had contacted the office of Swapo Party secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa but she was not prepared to give them an audience.
“Well, you remember when Comrade Ngurare came up with the 12 May Movement it did not sit well with some people in the party to disown the birthday. That why we probably did not get any response from the secretary-general of the party, but we are happy that the public responded well and there were many contributions and it was a success. The foundation is proud it was able to gather all those people,” Angula said. Asked for comment on the calls to make the day a public holiday, Angula said it would add value to the day, “but for now it's not a public holiday”.
Motivational speaker Sam Shivute was one of the speakers at the Oshuungi event which was held on Friday evening.
Shivute said Namibians need to understand their country's history, which cannot be told without including Nujoma's role.
“This event was well organised and one could really take inspiration from it. We learnt that culture is the cornerstone of wisdom and therefore we need to engage our elders,” Shivute said.
“We should be united and only through solidarity we will be able to build a better Namibia,” Shivute further said.
Oshana Region Swapo Party Pioneers Movement secretary Sisco Amunyela also spoke at the event, saying that Nujoma was the one who introduced the pioneers' movement and kept it alive.
“That is why the Swapo Pioneers Movement is still alive. We draw our inspiration and encouragement from the founding president through his leadership skill.
“Today, we learned more about what he went through to lead to a Namibia that is free for me and you,” Amunyela said.