Dr. Libertine Inaviposa Amathila – the First Namibian Women Physician and Deputy Prime – Minister (1940… )

During the liberation struggle Amathila was known as ‘Meme Doctor’ due to her bigheartedness and love for humanity. Amathila worked as a medical doctor to help Namibian refugees in different camps as well as wounded PLAN fighters.

Amathila was born in Fransfontein, Kunene Region on the 10th of December 1940. According to the biography collection, she attended her primary school at a Lutheran Mission School until standard 2 then went to Otjiwarongo Primary School till Standard 5, which is now Grade 7. She then came to the then famous Augustineum College in Okahandja from 1955 to 1957.

Amathila went into exile in 1962 via Botswana to Tanzania, where she dedicated her life to studying various fields, which includes a diploma in Nutrition and Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a Diploma for Epidemiology and the French language in Bamako, Mali in 1980 to mention a few.

In 1969 under the Swapo Nationhood Programme she received a scholarship to study medicine in Poland and graduated from the Warsaw Medical Academy, becoming the first Namibian female Doctor.

Furthermore the archive sources states that she served as a the Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare on the Swapo Central Committee and Director of the Swapo Women’s Council in 1969-1976 and was awarded a medical licence at Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

After further studies in London, Amathila couldn’t complete her studies in Pediatrics as she voluntarily left to Zambia, Lusaka to work at the Swapo refugee camps and later transferred to Angola as the Director of the Children’s Centre at Kwanza Sul, where she worked from camp to camp organising health projects. It is not a surprise that she was awarded the Omungulumbashe medal for bravery and long service in 1987, as well as the Nansen Refugee Award in 1991.

When Amathila returned to Namibia, she was part of the Swapo Election Directorate and was appointed as the Minister for Local and Regional Government and Housing until 1996 when she was appointed as the new Minister for Health and Social Services.

In 2005 she was privileged to become Deputy Prime Minister, where she showed her generosity and dedication in working with marginalised communities, which includes the Vahimba and San people, making sure they had access to education as well as health facilities. Amathila still continues to inspire young Namibians in her book launched in 2012, titled “Making A Difference”. In the book she talks about the struggle for independence, she also made space to encourage young women to be focused, determined, have courage as well as discipline.

Amathila has since retired from politics but still remains an active and influencial member of Swapo and the society.

Source : New Era