THE President of Namibia, Dr. Hage Geingob, paid tribute to the leader of the Namibian Revolution and Founding Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr. Sam Nujoma, on the day that thousands of people gathered at the Etunda Village to celebrate his 90th birthday.
During his address at the birthday celebrations President Geingob said: “We are celebrating 90 years in the life of an icon in every sense. He is a man defined by an innate humility, yet he possesses a disposition and an aura that is often times, larger than life. His life exploits are unforgettable and his elegance is mesmerizingly timeless.”
Founding President Nujoma had his birthday on 12 May and preparations for the birthday celebrations at Etunda have been in the making for the past week. The celebrations started on Friday evening with the Ohungi ceremony that was held at Okahao as a prelude to the main event.
President Geingob also made use of the opportunity to thank to thank the Founding President for his sacrifice, his tenacity, his tutelage, his guidance and for his perseverance throughout the struggle for Independence which was fought on the political, diplomatic and military fronts.
“We are proud and blessed to know you as a leader, father, comrade and friend.”
The full address by President Geingob reads as follows:
French businessman Francois Nars once said, and I quote, “True icons are larger than life, unforgettable with an elegance that is mesmerizingly timeless.” In my opinion, there is no better quote that captures the stature of today’s birthday boy, Comrade Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma. He is 90 years young. Therefore, we are celebrating 90 years in the life of an icon in every sense. He is a man defined by an innate humility, yet he possess a disposition and an aura that is often times, larger than life. His life exploits are unforgettable and his elegance is mesmerizingly timeless. It is for this reason that Comrade Nujoma’s legacy stretches across all generations, forming a bridge between the 20th and 21st century, between old and young, between the generation of the liberation struggle and the born- free generation. Everyone, from east to west and from north to south, can attest that our birthday boy, is indeed a Namibian icon.
But what does it mean to be called an icon? Why do we ascribe that title to certain people? Internet resource website, definitions.net, describes an icon as, “an outstanding example of something which has come to represent the class of things to which it belongs; a paragon; used of persons as well as objects.” Namibia’s history is defined by the fight against colonial oppression, racism and tyranny. Comrade Sam Nujoma is the primary example of our ideals of struggle and sacrifice. Although many heroes and heroines grace the annals of our history, Sam Daniel Nujoma, through his leadership of the SWAPO Party, is the first person to spearhead the mobilization of Namibians from all ethnicities and tribes in a unified cause of not only fighting for justice against the injustice of colonial oppression, but also fighting for total independence.
Under the expert leadership of Comrade Nujoma, SWAPO launched the struggle for Independence, politically, diplomatically and militarily. It was a long, bitter and protracted struggle but SWAPO prevailed because it had firmly rooted itself as the driving force of the Namibian people’s struggle for independence. Comrade Nujoma was able to galvanize party functionaries, deploying them as per their unique qualities and talents. Eventually, thanks to SWAPO’s efforts of lobbying and petitioning, the international community became empathetic to the struggles of the Namibian people. Comrade Nujoma and others were able to expose to the world that SWAPO was fighting a just cause to rid the Namibian people of the yoke of apartheid colonialism.
To paraphrase another icon, the leader of the Cuban Revolution Comandante Fidel Castro, Cde Sam Nujoma did not shape Namibia’s destiny, Namibia’s destiny shaped Cde Sam Nujoma and he became our man for the hour. His leadership came to the fore during our darkest days of the struggle, when the battleship seemed lost at sea, he was our compass, pointing us in the right direction. When the incessant waves of the storm seemed insurmountable, he was the captain at the wheel, keeping the ship sturdy. When things became wayward, he was our rudder, steering us towards the shores, where the promise of independence was waiting for us.
True leadership is forged during the most challenging times and the liberation struggle was the anvil that forged the iron will of Comrade Nujoma. It was that iron will that refused to waver, refused to surrender and ultimately spurred our combatants to achieve victory against all odds. In the words of Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” Cde Sam Nujoma always maintained the integrity of SWAPO and our struggle for independence by never being compromised. When we needed an immovable rock, a bulwark against the pressure of imperialist ideology, Comrade Nujoma stood firm as an immovable protector, providing hope and refuge in the eye of the storm.
As we pay tribute to this peerless Comrade, this foremost lynchpin of our revolution, we acknowledge a life dedicated to freedom and humanity. In recalling the life of Comrade Nujoma, I am reminded of the trip I took to Cuito Cuanavale this March, just two days after we celebrated our 29th Independence Anniversary. At that inaugural commemoration of Southern African Liberation day, we paid tribute to three iconic figures who symbolized one of the greatest military triumphs on African soil. Having paid tribute to Fidel Castro of Cuba and the late Agostinho Neto of Angola, I spoke of our own icon, whose extraordinary leadership and unyielding commitment to the freedom and independence of Namibia, provided the motivation and driving force for thousands of brave Namibians to sacrifice their lives in the name of freedom. I said that the indomitable spirit of this icon will continue to inspire future generations of Namibians.
Today, I wish to use this celebratory occasion to thank our Founding Father. Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your tenacity, thank you for your tutelage, thank you for your guidance and thank you for your perseverance. We are proud and blessed to know you as a leader, father, comrade and friend.
God has been kind to Namibia to bless this decorated Son of the Soil with 90 years of life and keep him healthy, within our midst. Today we can celebrate his life together, as brothers and sisters, converged at Etunda, brought together by the radiant and unifying spirit of the Founding Father of our Nation.
Happy Birthday to our birthday boy! May God give you the strength and wisdom to continue smoothly surmounting all the challenges life presents to you. Stay strong, stay wise and stay blessed. We wish you a birthday that you will enjoy to the fullest.
Happy 90th birthday Comrade Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma!
Long live the Father of the Namibian Revolution!
Long live the icon of our Liberation Struggle!
Long live the Republic of Namibia!