TWO days after celebrating 31 years of Independence, Namibia joined other member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in commemorating the complete liberation of the region from colonial occupation.
According to Ambassador Jerobeam Shaanika, the acting Head of the Department of Multilateral Relations and Cooperation at the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Southern Africa Liberation Day is commemorated annually on the 23rd of March.
During the commemoration, countries pay homage to the youth and elders, men and women that sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the Region, as well as the solidarity that continues to exist among SADC Member States.
Dr. Shaanika said in a statement, the decision to commemorate the SADC Liberation Day was taken by the 38th SADC Summit of Heads of State held in Windhoek.
“Those who made supreme sacrifices did so for us to enjoy our freedom to the fullest. As we enjoy this unlimited freedom today, we must know how it came about and what life was like before the dawn of freedom,” Shaanika said.
According to Shaanika, Southern Africa lived under the shadow of Apartheid which was unleashing its force of destruction across the borders in neighbouring countries.
In December 1966, the United Nations, through resolution 2202 A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 had declared Apartheid as a crime against humanity and was endorsed by UN Security Council resolution 556 (1984) of 23 October 1984. The majority of the international community stood together to condemn the despicable evil system of Apartheid.
In 1977, the South African Ministry of Defence, developed a White Paper concept of Total Strategy to unleash full state power; political/diplomatic, economic, social/psychological, and security under the guise of containment of the spread of communism. This total strategy/total onslaught has left traces of death, and the destruction and scars from the wounds inflicted are still healing.
From 14 August 1987 until 23 March 1988, Cuito Cuanavale, in Angola, was the battleground between Angolan, Cuban forces, and the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) combatants against the apartheid South African forces and União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA) rebels. The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale has gone down in the annals of history as a decisive battle that resulted in the collapse of the apartheid system in Namibia and South Africa, which led to the independence of Namibia and the birth of a non-racial democratic South Africa, as well as the strengthening of the national sovereign in Angola and later to peace and stability in that country.
The historic battle of Cuito Cuanavale, coupled with the sacrificial efforts of the Frontline States and Nigeria for the liberation of Southern Africa, as well as the support of countries and citizens worldwide that stood in solidarity against the apartheid regime, ushered in a new era of regional integration and development.
Following these events, the regional dynamics in southern Africa changed, culminating in the transformation of the 1980 Southern African Development Coordination Conference into the Southern African Development Community, on 17 August 1992, in Windhoek, Namibia.
Namibia continues to stand together with all SADC citizens against contemporary crimes, phenomena, and chains that threaten our common humanity and want to bind us, including tribalism, racism, human trafficking, radicalisation, domestic violence, poverty, and non-communicable and communicable diseases.
“The memory and legacy of those who sacrificed their lives to liberate our Region must continue to inspire us to serve the noble cause of our Community for generations to come. This sacrifice should empower us to forge ahead with the economic integration of the SADC region to ensure that our regional resources benefit all the people,” Shaanika said.