Nujoma credited for policy of national reconciliation
By Andreas Thomas
WINDHOEK – Dr Sam Nujoma led thousands of Namibians in the 30-year fight for independence, under the umbrella of the former liberation movement, South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), from the brutal apartheid regime of South Africa.
In 1989, Nujoma once again led his people home. After dominating the former South West African skies for close to 75 years, the apartheid flag was for the last time lowered and replaced with the new Namibian flag on March 21, 1990.
Former UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar went on to declare Namibia “is forever free, sovereign and independent”.
The man who put his life on the line for the love of his land and its people – Nujoma was sworn-in as the first President of the newly independent Republic of Namibia. He went on to govern Namibia, under the leadership of SWAPO Party for 15 years.
Nujoma took over a divided country, but managed to piece it together through a policy of national reconciliation that brought harmony among ethnic groupings as well as between blacks and whites.
To recognise his contribution in the attainment of Namibia’s independence and for promoting peace and national unity, as well as the well-being of the people, Namibians conferred on Nujoma the status of Founding Father of the Namibian Nation. This is through the Conferment of Status of Founding Father of the Namibian Nation Act, 2005.
Looking back into history, and as part of the 27th anniversary of Namibian independence, The Southern Times (courtesy of http://www.swapoparty.org/1990_inaugural_speech.html) reproduces the inaugural statement of Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma.
Nujoma’s inaugural speech
Honourable Master of Ceremony, Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government, Distinguished Guests, Dear Compatriots, Ladies and Gentlemen.
“For the Namibian people and for myself, this day, March 21, 1990, is the most memorable and indeed the most emotional moment in the annals of our history. This solemn hour is the moment which our people have been waiting for, for more than a century. This is the day for which tens of thousands of Namibian patriots laid down their lives, shed their precious blood, suffered imprisonment and difficult life in exile. Today, our hearts are filled with great joy and jubilation because our deepest and longest yearning has been realised. Honourable Master of Ceremony, Sir, for the past 43 years or so, this land of our forbearers was a bone of contention between the Namibian people and the international community, on one hand, and South Africa, on the other. The Namibian problem was at the centre of a bitter international dispute over the past four decades.
The United Nations and other international bodies produced huge volumes of resolutions, in an attempt to resolve this intractable problem. However, it pleases me to state that we are gathered here today, not to pass yet another resolution, but to celebrate the dawn of a new era in this land and to proclaim to the world that a new star has risen on the African continent. Africa’s last colony is, from this hour liberated.
It is, therefore, profoundly momentous and highly joyous, for the Namibian people and myself, that the highest representatives of the international community – the Secretary General of the United Nations – together with the State President of South Africa, and the Namibian nation, which I am honoured to lead, are able to announce, here today, to the world that a definitive and final solution to the protracted Namibian problem has, indeed, been unanimously reached by these three parties.
For the Namibia people, the realisation of our most cherished goal, namely the independence of our country and the freedom of our people, is fitting tribute to the heroism and tenacity with which our people fought for this long-awaited day. We have been sustained in our difficult struggle by the powerful force of conviction in the righteousness and justness of our cause. Today history has absolved us, our vision of a democratic state of Namibia has been translated into a reality.
With regard to the international community, the achievement of Namibia’s Independence today is, we believe, a welcome and laudable culmination of many years of consistent support for our cause. The world’s demand for our country to be allowed to exercise its’ inalienable right to self-determination and independence has been achieved. We express our most sincere gratitude to the international community for its’ steadfast support.
As for the government of South Africa, it can be said that the decision to accept the implementation of Resolution 435 was the first demonstration of political will to find a negotiated solution to the problems of our region. Furthermore, President Willem de Klerk proclamation here today that South Africa has reached a final and irreversible decision to relinquish control over Namibia is an act of statesmanship and realism. This, we hope, will continue to unfold in South Africa itself.
Honourable Master of Ceremony, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Compatriots, Ladies and Gentlemen, I seize the opportunity to point out that the protracted process of negotiating an agreement on Resolution 435 and struggling for its’ implementation was difficult and, at times, acrimonious. It was only perseverance, forbearance and commitment, which helped us to see the process through to its’ logical conclusion, namely, the birth of the Namibian nation we are here to witness.
Against this background, it is heartening for the Namibian people and I, to know that our independence has been achieved under conditions of national consensus and international unanimity. The impressive presence here today of so many world leaders and other dignitaries is a clear testimony to the fact that Namibia’s achievement of independence is an event of great world importance. For us this is yet another reason for celebration.
With respect to the important question of national consensus, I am glad to announce that following the independence election last November, the various Namibia political parties worked together in the Constituent Assembly, where we formulated and adopted a Constitution acceptable to the broad majority of our people.
Against this background, Honourable Master of Ceremony, Distinguished Guests and Dear Compatriots I am indebted to the Namibian electorate for giving SWAPO (the South West Africa People’s Organization) an absolute majority, thereby enabling it to form the first government of the Republic of Namibia. In the same vein, I am grateful to members of Namibia’s Constitutional Assembly for the confidence they placed in me in electing me as the first President of the Republic of Namibia.
I pledge to do my utmost to uphold the Constitution of the Republic, and to honour the trust, which the Namibian people have bestowed upon me to lead this new nation at this critical juncture.
To the Namibian people, I would like to state, on this solemn occasion, that our nation blazed the trail to freedom. It has arisen to its’ feet.
As from today, we are masters of this vast land of our ancestors. The destiny of this country is now fully in our own hands. We should, therefore, look forward to the future with confidence and hope.
Taking the destiny of this country in our own hands means, among other things, making the great effort to forge national identity and unity. Our collective security and prosperity depends on our unity of purpose and action, unity is a precondition for peace and development.
Without peace, it is not possible for the best and talented citizens of our country to realise their potential.
Our achievement of Independence imposes upon us a heavy responsibility, not only to defend our hard-won liberty, but also to set ourselves higher standards of equality, justice and opportunity for all, without regard to race, creed or colour. These are the standards from which all who seek to emulate us shall draw inspiration.
Master of Ceremony, Sir, in accepting the sacred responsibility which the Namibian people have placed on me, as the first President of the Republic of Namibia, I would like to bow and pay homage to our fallen heroes and heroines, whose names Namibia’s present and future generations will sing in songs of praise and whose martyrdom they will intone. In conclusion, I move, in the name of our people, to declare that Namibia is forever free, sovereign and independent.”