Nam Heroes Day… 23 years later

Namibia's ruling SWAPO Party has fought an enduring and bloodletting war against South Africa's fascist-racist regime and its occupation of its colony, South West Africa.

That war was considered one of Africa's most brutal wars. It spilled over into Angola. Whole communities in the north of Namibia and the south of Angola were literally wiped out.

Lest we forget, SWAPO's refugee camp, Cassinga, was a case in point, where colonial-apartheid forces had gone on a murder rampage, blasting Cassinga off the face of the earth, killing mostly women and children. Whole villages, far away from the economic centres of the country, were blasted to smithereens, leaving only a whole in the ground.

The history of oppression of the indigenous population dates however, much further back.

It started, when Caucasian Europe went out to conquer the rest of the world, spreading “Christian civilisation”.

Interestingly, colonial-apartheid South Africa's brutal re-colonisation had its roots also in their “Christian civilisation”, the racist Dutch Reformed Church.

Christian, civilised and educated Germany had conquered German South West Africa and almost wiped out the Herero, the Nama and the San.

The neo-coloniser, South Africa, from the south and their fellow civilised Christians from Portugal almost eliminated the Ovambo people coming in from the north in southern Angola.

That was then. It was also colonial-apartheid South Africa's contribution to the imperialist international West's Cold War against the spread of communism in Southern Africa.

Imperialist-capitalist Christianity viewed communism as “anti-Christian”.

That war intensified after Portugal withdrew its colonies in Africa in 1975.

After a long and bloody war, SWAPO and its People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) returned home victoriously in 1989 and then won the national democratic elections with a landslide. SWAPO-leadership and its indigenous Namibian following graciously reached out to the white and foreign minorities, the owners of the commercial land and the economy, in an effort of national reconciliation.

However, that hand has been snubbed to this day.

The owners of the economy and the wealth of Namibia's soil remain hostile, making every effort to retain the status quo and keeping the majority of Namibia's indigenous population on the sides of the economic playing fields.

Opportunistic Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) programmes were rolled out, for which the established “haves” were handsomely rewarded. Their business empires grew and new markets opened up for them. BEE became the cruel gatekeeper for the old owners and their status quo.

But, their greed knows no bounds.

The indigenous majority attends national events, celebrating their ruling SWAPO Party and the government's national achievements in big numbers.

The white minority, as much as it benefited from the previous regime and the current ruling party, remains aloof and distant. Their absence from these events is thunderous.

Continuous harping on “how good they had it under the South African regime and its DTA” and how “corrupt the current government and its officials are”, has become a daily diet.

How on earth can the above-mentioned and their lackeys in the media, who continue to snub the hand of reconciliation, hope to be included in Namibia's cultural, social and national growth? But, old habits die hard.

The exclusive mindset of self-righteous entitlement cannot be overcome.

From the belly of racist colonial-apartheid, SWAPO Party's leadership is attacked for honouring those, who paid the highest price.

Where else should this historic event be celebrated but in Omugulu-gwOombashe in Namibia's Omusati region? SWAPO's fighters are born and bred Namibians and they fought against what the United Nations described as a “crime against humanity”.

Namibians and their offspring would not have the peace, the stability, equal justice for all, access to education and health care and government employment throughout the country, had SWAPO and its PLAN not sacrificed in their numbers.

This would have to be respected and honoured for centuries to come.

Namibia's 2013 Heroes Day Commemoration is indeed a national event.

SWAPO did not consist of the people of the Owambo only. Its following, reflected in its membership, shows a national support base.

The war for Namibia was mainly fought in the north of the country.

PLAN fighters came from all over Namibia and had the full support of Angola's MPLA, the Cuban military, the Russian and East Germans as well as the ANC-MK's forces.

Together, shoulder-to-shoulder, they fought at Cuito Canavale in southern Angola to force colonial-apartheid South Africa and its backers in Washington, London, Tel Aviv and Bonn to finally negotiate.

The history of colonialism and colonial-apartheid occupation should not disingenuously be confused with new imaginations of how the goodness of people in general should be rewarded.

It smacks of a right-wing racist attempt to belittle and re-write Namibia's history.

In fact, the aforementioned would contribute to the polarisation of Namibia's society, splitting Namibia into two people – the privileged haves and the disempowered majority of have-nots. And, national stability would fly out of the window.

Heroes Day in Namibia should be celebrated with the respect and dignity it deserves.

Twenty-three years of peace, stability and national participation in its administration, despite a global economic slump and hostile economic owners, who dictate reconciliation on their own terms, have contributed to a national growth that would make those who gave their lives in the liberation war and now rest in the mass graves, extremely proud.

Congratulations Namibia! A luta continua!

• Udo Froese is a political and socio-economic analyst based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

September 2013
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