Voice of liberation airwaves silent

05 April 2018 | People

“When God speaks and says yes, no one can say no; God has spoken and called Sackey Namugongo home and it is beyond our authority.”

These were the words used by Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa to express her condolences on behalf of the ruling party to the bereaved Namugongo family and others who loved and respected the man whose voice kept the flames of liberation alive during Voice of Namibia (VoN) broadcasts.

The VoN was a pirate radio station propagating Namibian independence, and was the political mouthpiece of Swapo during the liberation war. It operated from 1966 until Namibian independence in 1990, from different hosting stations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Namugongo, 66, a veteran of the liberation struggle, spearheaded the mobilisation of Namibians to join the battle for independence through the renegade radio broadcasts in exile.

He died at the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek on Monday after a short illness.

Shaningwa remembered that she heard Namugongo on the VoN and said his loud voice had contributed immensely to the political mobilisation of scores of Namibians that joined the struggle.

She said he spearheaded the VoN broadcasts from Tanzania, Zambia and Angola.

“We feel down because of his death. He has gone and it will not be easy to replace him.”

During his colourful life, Namugongo was also known by his combat name 'Katau'.

He was one of the few men and women who fanned the flames of freedom and hope in the hearts of Namibians with informative, educative and inspiring information from the frontline states.

He sourced information and liberation songs during his visits to the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) frontline and broadcasted these recordings on the anti-apartheid airwaves.

He was born on 31 May 1952 in Mariental in the Hardap Region and at the age of five relocated with his parents to the Old Location and later to Katutura in Windhoek.

He completed his primary school education in Windhoek and matriculated at the Martin Luther High School in the Omaruru district.

Namugongo went into exile in 1974 and received an education opportunity to do his O-levels at Mukumbi Training College in Zambia.

He later did a crash course in journalism at Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka and thereafter joined the VoN.

He later obtained a master's degree in communication and social psychology at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig in the former East Germany.

After independence he worked at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation and the information ministry.

Former Swapo secretary for information and mobilisation Helmut Angula, who worked with Namugongo, described him as a hardworking and committed cadre.

“Sackey was knowledgeable and experienced in international affairs, as he had training in world affairs. He was also well versed in Swapo affairs as he has been working in the party's information department during the liberation struggle,” Angula said.

According to him Namugongo came from a family with a rich struggle history dating back to the days of the Old Location. He said Namugongo's parents were strong and committed activists.

Angula expressed his sympathy to Namugongo's widow, children and the rest of his family during vigil held on Monday.

“As far as the Swapo veterans are concerned, we will meet him. We recognise his contributions towards the ideological position of the party,” Angula added.

FRED GOEIEMAN

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