Shilikoshi Martin Shilongo – the Mobilizer, Educator and Political Prisoner (1937-1982) [column]

He is rarely mentioned in our national narratives on the history of the liberation struggle, however Shilikoshi Martin Shilongo is among the many sons and daughters of the soil who since the 1960s played a leading role in the struggle for liberation.

Nicknamed ‘Satan’ by the Boers, Shilongo is one of the earliest pioneers of the liberation war, who ultimately lost his life due to his commitment to the freedom of his motherland. It is with reference to this that when his wife, Taimi Shilongo and son Matias Boas Shilongo compiled his biography, they noted that Shilongo was indeed a brave warrior. “We are grateful to God who gave us this brave warrior and pray that his legacy live on as the next generation builds on and takes off from where he left,” writes Taimi and Matias Shilongo.

Born on the 20th of October 1937 at Oikoto village in Ohangwena Region, Shilongo excelled in his formal education. He obtained a teaching certificate from Ongwediva Seminary in 1960 and went on to further his studies at Oshigambo High School from 1961 to 1963. After completing his studies, he was employed as a teacher at Ongwediva Teacher’s Seminary where he began to play a leading role in politics. It is with reference to this that Taimi and Matias Shilongo wrote that “during that time, he sensitized many students about the political reality facing the nation and mobilized them to support the struggle”.

Perhaps owing to Shilongo’s commitment to the liberation of the motherland, they further argued that Shilongo “formed a powerful team to mobilize the people to join the liberation struggle. Suffice to mention that at one point he went to visit then South African administrator, De Wet to inform him that his apartheid administration should reframe from torturing and harassing Namibian people.”

The political ideology he imparted to the Namibian youth whilst teaching at Ongwediva Seminary agitated the colonial authorities such that he was removed from his teaching job. The colonial authority though that perhaps by giving him a lucrative job he could become one of their agents. Just a year after he served as a school principal at Shapwa Combined School, he was offered a job as school inspector, however he refused it and opted to go back to his village.

In 1973, he taught at Ongenga Combined School and later moved to Ekalalapwa Primary School. During that time, his contact with PLAN combatants and mobilization activities intensified and this made him one of the most wanted enemies of the colonial authorities. At one point he had to duck enemy bullets after the Boers shot at his car whilst he was on his way home. This however did not deter him from supporting the liberation struggle. He continued to recruit informants for Swapo and provide material support to the combatants.

“He worked with central north commanders like Jessay Uahengo and others. Together they established Ongenga Swapo branch which they named Nandjedi,” writes Taimi and Matias Shilongo.

His political involvement did not go undetected by the colonial authorities. He was arrested in 1982 and kept at a prison in Ondangwa where he endured a lengthy period of physical and emotional abuse.

Source : New Era