Veteran journalist, poet and media pioneer, Peter Mvula ya Nangolo, was laid to rest at the Old Location Cemetery in Windhoek.
The President of Namibia paid tribute to the life of ya Nagolo, who passed away at his Hochlandpark home on 25 April 2019, and said he played a pioneering role in establishing Namibia’s unique media landscape.
The retired special advisor to the Minister of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) was a colourful and well-known character in especially the Windhoek city centre in recent years.
He was also a great lover of the arts and published many poems and books, including ‘From Exile’, which was published in 1976, 1991’s ‘Thoughts From Exile’, 1995’s political documentary ‘Cassinga – A Story Untold’ and his latest work ‘Watering The Beloved Desert’ which is a collection of new poems.
Dr. Geingob’s Tribute to the late ya Nangolo reads as follows:
Comrade Mvula ya Nangolo didn’t believe in co-incidences. He believed that everything has meaning. As a young boy who grew up in Old location, Cde Mvula returned to Namibia from exile and bought a house in the section of Hochlandpark that used to be part of Old Location. “I’ve returned here for many a reason, I’ll certainly live here for many a season.” This is a quote from Cde Mvula’s poem titled, “Namibia”. As we bury this son of our soil in the Old Location Cemetery, we are reminded there is indeed a reason, and a season, for everything.
My journey with Mvula started 59 years ago in 1960 as classmates at Augustineum with the likes of Hidipo Hamutenya and Theo-Ben Gurirab. We met again in 1963, while in exile, in Francistown (Botswana), where Comrade Maxton Joseph and I met him and Mburuma Kerina.
Our lives remained intertwined as Mvula’s role, as a SWAPO broadcaster, and my role, as a chief representative of SWAPO in New York, required co-ordination around information dissemination. Comrades Hidipo Hamutenya, Theo-Ben Gurirab and I assisted Cde Mvula with the sourcing information from the United Nations and he jokingly referred to us as the “diplomatic trio.”
If he were alive, cde Mvula would remind me that it is no co-incidence that we were all schoolmates. It was also no coincidence that when President Sam Nujoma sent me to head UNIN in Lusaka, my path would once again be intertwined with that of cde Mvula.
In exile, cde Mvula played a critical role in negating the propaganda of racist South Africa and ensuring that the Namibians, and the world at large, heard the truth. At independence, cde Mvula was part of the transitional team to transform the South West African Broadcasting Corporation into the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation. He also played a transformational role in the establishment of the Namibian Press Agency. He was duly awarded National Honours by President Pohamba As Namibia celebrates World Press Freedom Day with the title of having Africa’s freest press, we also celebrate veterans, like Cde Mvula, who played a critical role in establishing an enabling environment for a free press to thrive.
My daughter, Nangi, and Mvula’s son, Puleni, were born in the same year and grew up together in Lusaka. Mvula’s common law wife passed away while his son was still young and I admired his commitment as a single father. Cde Mvula was defined by a deep love for all his children and as we reflect on the many lessons he left us with, the need for men to be present in the lives of the children is one of the most important lessons. Too many men have allowed the responsibility of raising children to fall exclusively on Mothers and Grandmothers, and too many children carry the wounds of absent fathers. Let us draw inspiration from principled men like Mvula and ensure that we always assist with the emotional and financial needs of our children.
In the many tributes to Cde Mvula that I read and heard, it is clear that he was also a mentor and father figure to many of his colleagues, fellow artists, comrades and friends.
Fellow Mourners, we are burying the remains of Comrade Mvula ya Nangolo on the fourth of May, the day on which we commemorate Cassinga. The atrocities committed against our people on this day feature prominently in Comrade Mvula’s documentary titled Cassinga: A Story Untold. As we lay him to rest on the same day that many of his comrades perished, and were buried, in Cassinga reminds us of his insistence that there are no coincidences.
We are gathered to offer our final salute to a fallen comrade. As a celebrated poet, his voice and thoughts will never be buried as his poems will remain with us forever.
As a family, you have lost a patriarch. Your father, your husband, your uncle, your brother, your grandfather and great-grand father is no more. As a nation, we have lost a literary giant, our archive of information, a veteran of the liberation struggle and a seasoned journalist. In this period of shared loss and collective pain, let us reflect on what we have learnt from Mvula and what we seek to teach those around us.
To the widow, you have certainly taught us the value of unconditional love, patience and compassion. To the children, you have taught us the importance of loving one another within a blended family and to the family, you have taught us the importance of unity during difficult times.
Fellow Mourners, let us turn to our Almighty Lord and find solace in the power of his everlasting presence. Isaiah 41:10 reminds us, “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”
Comrade Mvula, to paraphrase your poem, “A Flower”, we are here, walking single file.
We will not walk by; we will put flowers on your grave. We will not forget the brave.
Farewell Comrade Mvula ya Nangolo, rest gently on your eternal bed.
May the soul of Comrade Peter Mvula ya Nangolo rest in eternal peace.