Independence Day, 21 March 1990 [editorial]

Retracing the footsteps of a liberation struggle icon: “Where Others Wavered, the Autobiography of Sam Nujoma”

INDEPENDENCE Day itself, 21 March 1990, has been the subject of countless reports and has been thoroughly recorded in many commemorative books and videos. On that historic day, the invited guests who attended the Independence Day ceremonies, with more than 50,000 Namibians and others, witnessed the raising of the Namibian flag in the Windhoek Independence Stadium, as did many millions of television viewers all over the world, at a few minutes after midnight.

In addition to the thousands of Namibian patriots who celebrated with us in Windhoek there were independence celebrations throughout the country, such as the one presided over by Mzee Simon Kaukungua in Oshakati, where independence was also fittingly celebrated.

I was proud and honoured to welcome foreign dignitaries to our country who came to join us in celebrating our victory and independence. Among them were representatives of anti-apartheid movements, support groups from all parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Australia, who had actively supported our cause, sometimes in the face of official political opposition in their own governments, and for no reward other than the goal finally achieved. This was their day as well as ours and it was proper that they should share it with us.

We also remembered that night those who had not lived to see the day of our freedom, those who had sacrificed their lives for freedom and Independence:

At the Windhoek Old Location

At the Shatotwa and Cassinga massacres

In the war zone after the South African Army violation of the 1 April 1989 cease-fire agreement

On the battlefield over the 23 years of armed liberation struggle

As political prisoners of the South Africans on Robben Island and in other torture camps and prisons

As victims of the atrocities of the SWATF, Koevoet and the Bantustan “home guards”

As victims of assassination by undercover agents of the South African military intelligence

And many other compatriots who disappeared without a trace and went to their graves, while our country was still in colonial bondage.

The blood of all these sons and daughters of Namibia watered the tree of our liberty and will always be remembered by present and future generations of the Republic of Namibia.

It was in the spirit of SWAPO’s policy of national reconciliation that we also remembered those of our countrymen and women who had died in defence of South African rule, or while opposed to it but became alienated from the liberation movement.

As that great day of our independence drew to a close, there was one thought above all others in my mind: Tomorrow the history of independent Namibia begins, and we owe it to all who have gone before, as well as to all who will come after, to make it one worthy of them and of the heroic struggle in which we were able to triumph at last.

We had, through this heroic struggle, attained political freedom, the essential first goal of SWAPO. But immense tasks lay ahead.

After independence we would be faced with the challenges of nation building, of economic reconstruction and of unifying a population that had been torn along racial and ethnic lines during centuries of colonial oppression, apartheid and ‘bantustanization’. We would be working to provide for the well-being of all our people, to improve educational and health services, and the infrastructure needed for the building of a modern, just society. Finally, it was my firm belief, and so it remains, that the Independence victory of SWAPO would enable the Namibian people to participate in the wider Pan-African movement to attain the ultimate goal of a united continent, in which the aspirations of the African people on the continent and those in the Diaspora as a whole will be achieved.

– This is the last edited series from the book Where Others Wavered, The Autobiography of Sam Nujoma.

Source : New Era