Simon ‘Mzee’ Kaukungwa Laid to Rest

After weeks of tributes from across the country, Simon Hafeni Kaukungwa was laid to rest at the Heroes Acre yesterday morning.

With his coffin draped with the Namibian flag for which many said he fought tirelessly for, the casket of ‘Mzee’ as he is affectionately known was lowered into the ground accompanied by a 17-gun salute.

After everything that has been said about Kaukungwa’s illustrious life, it was perhaps his fellow liberation struggle icon, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo’s words during the last memorial service that summed up the mood during the mourning period: “We have lost a pillar and a soldier. This is the end of an era for Simon.”

Ya Toivo, who described Kaukungwa as his elder brother said, “What he has done for Namibia is something not to be forgotten.”

Namibians bade their final farewell to Kaukungwa at the national shrine. Ceremonies to celebrate his illustrious life and a life of struggle were also held in the northern part of the country where he hails from.

Kaukungwa died on September 01, just over two weeks before his 95th birthday.

His funeral drew together hundreds of mourners including President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma, Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob and several cabinet ministers.

At Thursday’s memorial service at the Parliament Gardens speaker after speaker took time to bow in front of ‘Mzee’s flag-draped casket.

People from all corners of the society including businesspeople, youth, diplomats as well as veterans of the liberation struggle attended the funeral.

‘ Mzee’ Kaukungwa was remembered in a final service filled with personal tributes as well as narrations of the work he did for the ruling party.

‘Mzee’ Kaukungwa was Swapo’s founding secretary of the Swapo Elders Council and is said to be the one who nominated Nujoma to become the founding president of Swapo.

During yesterday’s proceedings, his wife Johanna could not help but shed tears as her husband’s coffin was lowered into the ground.

Kaukungwa joins other national heroes such as Dimo Hamaambo, Markus Kooper, Mose Tjitendero, Richard Kabajani, John Pandeni, Peter Tsheehama, John ya Otto Nankudhu, Frederick Matongo and Andrew Intamba who were buried at the shrine after it was opened on 26 August 2002.

“Your legacy lives on. We are here to remember a steadfast, committed and highly disciplined man. To you the attainment of freedom was never a doubt,” said Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) president Hidipo Hamutenya.

Hamutenya said, “We will jealously guard the independence which you fought for.”

In his tribute, Nujoma recalled how a brave Kaukungwa once staged a walk out of a public meeting in Ohangwena in 1964 with the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, Nel De Wet.

“The late ‘Mzee’ Kaukungwa walked out of the meeting, followed by the majority of people who were present at that meeting,” Nujoma recalled.

After the walkout Kaukungwa was declared as a ‘wanted man’ whether dead or alive.

President Pohamba said Kaukungwa stood out as one of the undisputed leaders among his peers.

“The struggle for national liberation needed fearless leaders to mobilise the nation to join hands and fight to break the chains of oppression. Through his interaction with his fellow citizens, Comrade Kaukungwa radiated confidence, resilience and clarity of mind,” eulogised Pohamba.

His death left a void that will be difficult to fill, said the Head of State.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who was the director of proceedings at yesterday’s funeral service, also described him as one of the outstanding heroes of the liberation struggle.

Source : New Era