Remembering A Namibian Hero
Fredrick Mwala Matongo was born on October 10, 1946 at Kabbe Village in the Zambezi Region of Namibia.
Cde Matongo joined SWAPO in 1964 in exile in Tanganyika, now Tanzania, and he became a member of SWALA (the liberation army) and received his military training at Kongwa in Tanzania from 1965 to 1967.
He was also sent for military training in Pyong Yang, North Korea in 1968.
When he returned after he completed his military training he was deployed to the Eastern Front in Zambia and he was appointed Platoon Secretary in December 1968, he was arrested in Botswana after having survived a battle in Tsumkwe.</p>
He was later released and then went to Zambia.
Cde Matongo was a family man who was married to Meme Helena and the couple had five children.
In 1970 after the restructuring of SWALA the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), Hamunyela wa Shalale appointed Matongo the Deputy Commander for the reconnaissance platoon he led.
Later in the same year, he was assigned together with the late Cde Kabwela ka Ndafenongo to open an office in Senanga in Zambia and the Litambya Village headman called Mwenelumbala gave them a place to build their base that was called Freedom House so that they could liaise between the SWAPO office and the front.
Cde Matongo was then again in the same year appointed Deputy Chief of Logistics of PLAN and later became Chief of Logistics in 1972 to 1977.
He devoted his life to the armed struggle and gave up his youthful life for the cause of Namibian Independence and he will be remembered by many Namibians and fellow soldiers whom he saved from drowning in 1971 in an incident that happened one day when a canoe which was ferrying their arms and ammunition across the Zambezi River capsized throwing all its occupants and materials into the crocodile-infested river.
Cde Matongo heroically dived into the river and he saved some comrades from drowning and retrieved everything that was on board the canoe.
Another incident happened in 1973 when a group of PLAN soldiers and two Swedish journalists, one still lives in Namibia, namely Per Sanden, were moving from M'pacha Air Base at that time going towards the Caprivi Strip when they came across a herd of elephants.
They decided to move north into Angola and were spotted by Portuguese and South African helicopters. There was shooting from the helicopters and two bodyguards told Per Sanden to take cover and then the two bodyguards jumped onto him to protect him knowing the bullets would hit them rather than Per Sanden. One of those bodyguards was Cde Matongo and the other comrade died trying to save Per Sanden's life.
The legacy and bravery of Cde Matongo will live forever in the minds of many patriotic Namibians.
After many years at the battlefront, the party decided to assign Cde Matongo to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania as a Deputy Representative of SWAPO.
He first served under Kavela Katamila who was later replaced by Cde Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.
He stayed in that position until 1982. He was later assigned to open a SWAPO office in New Delhi in India and he was appointed the SWAPO representative there until 1986.
While in India, he was accorded full diplomatic status – the first SWAPO member to be given that recognition.
He was later transferred to Congo-Brazzaville as a SWAPO representative, where he served from 1986 to 1988 when he was sent to the party school in Cuba until his repatriation to Namibia in 1989.
After Independence, Cde Matongo continued to serve the SWAPO Party and in 1990 he was appointed Secretary-General of the SWAPO Veterans Trust. He was also elected Secretary of the SWAPO Party War Veterans Committee in 1995 in addition to being voted the Deputy Secretary of the SWAPO Party Elders Council in 1999 and eventually as the Secretary of the SWAPO Party Elders Council.
Following the creation of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs in 2006, Cde Matongo was appointed as the Special Advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs in December 2006 until his passing away on Friday November 1, 2013.
Hamba kahle (go well) Cde Fredrick Mwala Matongo! – New Era