Richard Kapelwa Kabajani – a Plan Fighter, Diplomat and Politician, 1943 – 2007

RICHARD Kapelwa Kabajani was a PLAN fighter, diplomat and politician who was born in 1943 in Ivilivinzi village, some 117km from Katima Mulilo. He was the third son in a family of ten other siblings – five male and five female.

He attended Ngoma Primary School and Mulumba Missionary School, and was a classmate of fellow People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) combatant Greenwell Matongo and the exiled former chief of the Mafwe, Boniface Bebi Mamili.

His biography at the National Museum of Namibia states: “He attended school in Botswana from 1955 to 1966 and during this period he developed an interest in politics. In 1964 he joined Swapo and was sent to the then Northern Rhodesia – now Zambia – and later to Mbeya in Tanzania for military training.” During the war for independence, Kabajani was one of the first fighters to engage the South African Defence Force in the northeast. He was one of the commanders who opened up the Eastern Front in 1967 and was elected as a member of the Central Committee. He served as the Deputy Secretary for Defence for PLAN, holding the position from 1970 to 1985. Kabajani was appointed as the SWAPO secretary for defence after the demise of the veteran PLAN fighter Peter ‘Ndilimani’ Nanyemba and was later appointed as the special assistant to Swapo leader Sam Nujoma. He participated in the negotiations for the United Nations Plan for Namibia in Geneva in 1981, Lusaka and Cape Verde in 1984.

At independence Kabajani was elected to the Constituent Assembly and helped to write the Namibian Constitution. He later served in the 1st and 2nd National Assemblies and was the first minister of the then ministry of works, transport and communication.

An article by his younger brother Kamwi Kabajani says: “He spent some days in Mbeya before he was taken to a military training camp in Kongwa by fellow PLAN combatant Tobias Hainyeko. There he spent two years in training. Ba Kapelwa, as he was known by his peers, was taken to Kongwa by Tobias Hainyeko. All freedom fighters from Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zimbabwe were trained at Kongwa.

“During the period 1977 to 1978 he trained in the former Soviet Union as a PLAN commander of the mechanized infantry brigade.

“In 1996 he served as the minister of youth and sport until his retirement from Cabinet at the end of government’s second term when he was appointed as the Ambassador to Cuba.”

Kabajani died of heart failure in 2007 in Katima Mulilo State Hospital and was interred at the Heroes’ Acre in Windhoek with full military honours.

He was the first person from the Zambezi Region to be interred at Heroes’ Acre.

Source : New Era