Internal Affairs

Khomas holds low-key Cassinga commemoration

Summary

The Khomas Regional Council (KRC) on Wednesday held an unspectacular event in remembrance of Cassinga Day at the national Heroes Acre in Windhoek.On the day, Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua laid a wreath in memory of those who paid the ultimate p…

The Khomas Regional Council (KRC) on Wednesday held an unspectacular event in remembrance of Cassinga Day at the national Heroes Acre in Windhoek.

On the day, Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua laid a wreath in memory of those who paid the ultimate prize with their lives 44 years ago as well as those who survived the tragic event.

She was accompanied by about 15 Cassinga survivors.

The event which lasted for less than 15 minutes was a far cry from what Namibians have been accustomed to when the nation commemorates the day.

Normally, the day would attract large crowds, senior government officials, politicians and other high ranking foreign emissaries.

The crowds would be treated to dramatic plays that are reminiscent of the fateful event and musical bands.

It was not to be, this time around.

Speaking to Nampa, shortly after laying the wreath, McLeod-Katjirua described the day as a sombre moment which is still fresh in the memories of most survivors and by extension, Namibian in general.

“It is a painful day. It is a day that some of us do not want to remember. When this day happened in 1978, I was in Zambia as a young girl. But of course, we knew what was happening in Angola,” McLeod-Katjirua said.

“If you look at those ladies that are singing, they are the survivors and if you look at how young they still look, you can tell that by 1978, they were then still [young] girls,” she said.

This, she said, is evidence that indeed Cassinga was a civilian refugee camp where Swapo was keeping mainly women and children.

“In Khomas Region, even if we don’t have these big events due to COVDI-19, we have made it a tradition that at least, in honour of Cassinga Day, we come and lay a wreath,” she explained the low-key event.

While efforts have been made to heal the psychological and physical wounds, more work lies ahead to bring closure to one of the darkest chapters of Namibian history.

“It was war and those are the results of war. Healing of war wounds will not take a day or two…I am sure government would have done enough [and] if they have not done enough, it’s an ongoing process to make sure that the survivors receive the psychosocial support as well as counselling to heal the wounds of yesteryear,” she buttressed.

In a statement issued by the Presidency, President Hage Geingob described the event as a barbaric attack by the notorious colonial troops of apartheid South Africa.

“Cassinga Day will forever be a scar in the memory of Namibians. Today, 44 years after the brutal, senseless and inhumane massacre of Namibian refugees, mainly women and children, on 4 May 1978, at Cassinga in southern Angola, we still remember that painful chapter because the physical and psychological scars are deep and they remain a constant reminder that the freedom and independence of the Namibian people came at a high cost,' Geingob said.

The Cassinga massacre is a sad tale. It encompasses the killing of between 600 to 1000 Namibians, of whom the majority were defenceless women and children on 04 May 1978.

It is considered one of the worst atrocities committed by the ruthless and repugnant South African apartheid regime.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency