Writing the Struggle
And it was in this furnace that moulded comrades like Major Willibard “Nakada Shikolo” Tashiya (West Front regional commander, member of SWAPO Military Council), Jackson Mazazi (instructor/commissar for politics and the Vietnam Political Information Officer), “Mbunjana” Munashimwe (camp commander at Vietnam Front), Kalwele Saleus Nehunga (Vietnam physical training instructor), Sakeus “Jocks” Heita (Western Front regional commander for anti-aircraft), David “Kapinya” Mbango (Western Front regional political commissar), and Sekitus “Situation” Shoopola (Western Front regional commander for logistics).
These men are the subject of Willy Mary Amutenya’s “Brave Unyielding Comrades”.
The account captures the period from 1978 to 1990 and Amutenya (real name Mweshilengelwa Willy Amutenya) unravels the torment he went through when the struggle started and why he had to join the war.
Amutenya attended Anamulenge Primary School from 1966 to 1972 and secondary school from 1973 to 1975. In 1976-1977, he worked for the government as a Telecom switchboard operator at Ondangwa Post Office.
After getting involved with SWAPO, Amutenya was elected vice secretary of the Youth League in the then Ovamboland in 1975.
He decided to cross into Angola in 1978 because of harassment and death threats from the South African Defence Forces and the notorious Koevoet Units.
After four months in exile, the SADF raided Angola attacking SWAPO refugee camps.
Unfortunately, he was one of those captured and brought back to Namibia for incarceration in Mariental.
“By mid-January 1978 I received regular deaths threats from members of Koevoet in Oshakati and Ondangwa while I was in the middle of covert preparations for the armed struggle for liberation.
“I had an ominous feeling that my days were numbered, and decided to leave the country early in March 1978. “Since I had been assisting members of PLAN in Namibia, it was not difficult to get over the borders.
“I was smuggled into Angola and ended up at the Vietnam (Chetequera) transit camp, roughly 40 kilometres from the Angolan-Namibian border.
“Vietnam transit camp became my home from March to May 1978.
“On Thursday, 5 May 1978 the South African Defence Force invaded southern Angola, brutally attacking two SWAPO-led refugee camps, Cassinga and Vietnam.
“I lost my right arm in that violent clash, and was captured as a prisoner of war together with 190 others,” he reveals.
Amutenya and his fellow prisoners were released from Keikanachab Prison in 1984 through a pressure campaign by the Council of Churches in Namibia and other parties involved in the conflict for implementing UN Resolution 435.
This is but one story in this narrative.
While the war itself is of great interest, sometimes life after the war is an even greater story.
Amutenya’s life since the struggle has differed from many of his comrades because he pursued education rather than politics.
In 1985, Amutenya worked for the Anglican Diocese of Namibia as a pre-school teacher at the Anglican Kindergaten in Katutura before moving to the Roman Catholic Church as a social worker, co-ordinating Justice and Peace Commission issues on human rights in 1988.
He then studied for a certificate in Theology through correspondence from Theological Extension College of Southern Africa.
He also obtained a diploma in Production and Supervision from Damelin College in 1994 and thereafter worked for the Ministry of Higher Education as Chief Hostel Patron for International Youth Hostels.