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HEROES' ACRE WINDHOEK NAMIBIA. Statement By His Excellency President Sam Nujoma On The Occasion Of The Official
Inauguration Of Heroes' Acre 26 August 2002

 

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Statement By His Excellency President Sam Nujoma On The Occasion Of The Official

Inauguration Of Heroes' Acre 26 August 2002

 

As leaders of the first Government, we saw it fit to pay homage to our heroes and heroines by funding the construction of this Heroes' Acre. The planning construction, and even the very concept of the Heroes' Acre was received with different feelings among the citizenry, In a democracy such reactions are to be expected. It is part and parcel of our people's freedoms and rights to express themselves in different ways. It is well and good that the genuine majority of our patriots raised their voices in concurrence with the construction of this national monument in the broadest sense of that concept. In the final analysis, it must be seen as one of those tangible expressions of our policy of national reconciliation, Statehood and unity as a nation.

It is a place for all Namibians irrespective of their political, racial, ethnic, or religious backgrounds to come and honor those sons and daughters of our soil who sacrificed their lives, and those who, during their lifetimes, made great and meaningful contributions to the liberation of the Land of the Brave and all her people in their diversity. Compatriots, this monument was built as our token of honor to our forefathers and mothers.

I ask all of you, who will in the future pass through these gates and set foot on this Heroes' Acre, to do so with due respect and honor, for, here will lay the remains of those who shed their blood for the irrevocable sovereignty of our Republic. At this Heroes' Acre we, the Namibian people, are writing the history of Namibia, the history of victory, the history of unity, the history of dedication, indeed, the history of nationhood. Fellow Namibians, we are writing the history of our country from our own perspective and through our own suffering and sacrifices. The time when colonizers distorted our history is now gone forever.

 

The entire leadership in Government has gone through an agonizing process of identifying the parameters that will assist our citizens to identify those persons whose names will be engraved in golden letters here and those who will be buried here in future. It has been a very demanding process, indeed. As a result, it was felt that the wisdom of all Namibians must be sought through our Regional Governors and all their regional communities. It must be emphasized that this process has to be as representative, all-inclusive and consultative to arrive at a final conclusion. While many useful suggestions have been received from the regions, the process is still going on.

WE as Namibians have learned greatly in the process of establishing our Heroes' Acre and we continue to draw lessons from neighboring countries and others far afield in this regard. I call on all Namibians to contribute to the national effort of honoring our heroes and heroines in this befitting manner by proposing the names, and where possible, giving the details of heroic deeds for inclusion in the list of those whose names will appear at the Heroes' Acre now and in the future.

I admit that many Namibians have achieved great feats and historic deeds that qualify them as heroes and heroines. In fact, over the years, and in our daily lives, many heroes and heroines manifest themselves by performing deeds of gallantry, bravery, selfless sacrifice and honor. All of them deserve to be honored and recognized in the most fitting manner, because they are indeed heroes and heroines in their own right.

You will, however agree with me that for practical, logistical and other reasons, not all of the names that we received from the Regions will find place for inclusion here at the Heroes' Acre. However, our citizens must rest assured that through transparency the identification process will be thorough, balanced and objective. Therefore, in order to ensure that justice is done to all our deserving national heroes and heroines, each city and each town, all communities, each village and each settlement must participate in this process.

As the saying goes, "a people who do not know their history, or where they came from will not know where they area going." In our own context, if we as Namibians neglect and forget our history, we will not be able to chart the future course for our country and her people. This fitting memorial to the rich history of our country must serve to remind and to educate our people about where we came from and where we intend to go as an independent nation.

The Heroes' Acre must serve as an inspiration to our citizens, both young and old alike, that through determined and united action we can achieve our national goals, despite the obstacles that may seem insurmountable. Indeed, we must draw strength, inspiration and courage from this monument and all that it represents as we forge ahead with the noble task of national development. May the eternal flame continue to illuminate our path towards a stronger, united and more prosperous Namibia.

As we inaugurate this Heroes" Acre today, we will unveil the graves of nine of our national heroes and heroines whose names have already been engraved here in the Heroes' Acre. These heroes and heroines were identified from the period of our people's resistance against German colonialism to the era of modern anti-colonial struggle, specifically the Windhoek Old Location Uprising on 10 December 1959.

 

I will now present them in the following order:

Heroes' Acre Windhoek photo of black grantie grave stone of Henrik Witbooi As history tells us, the German colonialists entered our national territory in the early 1800s, through the merchant activities of Adolph Luderitz and the German missionaries who also reconnoitered the territory and sent daily information to the German Imperial Government. Later on, the German Imperial Government sent troops to occupy the territory which they referred to as the German Sudwest Protectorate. Their intent was to conquer and subjugate our people and to exploit and pillage the resources of our motherland. When they saw fit, they did not hesitate to murder, maim, torture and imprison our people on Shark Island, off the shores of Luderitz.

Some of the Nama people were also imprisoned along the Skeleton Coast where they later died in their thousands. Up to this day, their skeletons could still be seen with the naked eyes as the winds constantly blow away the sand dunes which cover their remains. Some of our Nama people were deported, detained and exiled in Togo and Cameroon which were also German colonies where thousands of them died of

sickness caused by the harsh treatment and unfamiliar climatic conditions to which they were exposed. Today, if you go to the southern regions of our country, especially the Hardap and Karas Regions, you Hardly see anybody because the Namas were exterminated as a community by the German Imperial troops. The extermination of the Nama people by the German Imperial troops can be verified by many eyewitnesses. One such eyewitness, a young girl who by 1904 was six years old, by the name of Sophia Neels, personally witnessed the massacres of whole villages between Gibeon and Swartmodder. Whole families were wiped out, especially the men folk. After all the men in her village were killed by the German Imperial troops, she helped her mother to flee with her little brother, Jacob, into the bush. They were attacked by wild animals and unfortunately her little brother died of thirst and starvation. She helped her mother bury Jacob in the riverbed and they covered his body with sand and grass. That evening, the hyenas devoured the small body of Jacob. In this way, thousands of our Nama people who fled from German Imperial troops died between 1904 and 1907. They died of starvation, thirst, trauma and attacks by wild animals which were then still roaming our countryside.

Confronted with this inhumane treatment at the hands of the German Imperial troops, our peace loving people were left with no other choice but to rise to arms and fight back in defense of their land and territorial integrity. Among them was a revolutionary and determined leader and military tactician by the name of Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi. Through his bravery and courage he led and commanded our Nama people in popular armed resistance against the German Imperial Forces of occupation of our land until he was killed in battle on 29 October 1905 at a place which is today known as Witbooiseinde, in the vicinity of Vaalgras.

It is a historical fact that Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi was the first African leader who took up arms against the German imperialists and foreign occupiers in defense of our land and territorial integrity. We, the new generation of the Land of the Brave, are inspired by Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi's revolutionary action in combat against the German Imperialists who colonized and oppressed our peoples. To his revolutionary spirit and his visionary memory we humbly offer our honor and respect.


Heroes' Acre Windhoek photo of black grantie grave stone of Jacob Marenga Jacob Marenga who was another revolutionary leader succeeded Kaptein Witbooi and led the Nama people and fought many of the longest guerilla warfares against the German Imperial forces in the southern regions of our country. During the Bondelswarts Uprising of 1903 to 1904 he waged the armed resistance from a base in the Karas Mountains that was inaccessible to the enemy. It was at that base where he revised and co-coordinated his entire military strategy against the foreign occupation of the motherland. Born of a Herero mother and a Nama father, Marenga had a vision of broad African nationalism which transcended narrow ethnic loyalties and he was therefore designated as "the man of the future". He employed scientific guerilla tactics with the multi-ethnic troops under his command and engaged the German colonial army in more than fifty battles. After he made a tactical retreat to the Cape Province, then a British colony, where he sought political asylum from the British colonial authorities there, a large crowd assembled at Prieska to welcome the brave guerilla leader. Marenga held a press conference at

Prieska which was attended by several journalists including one from the Cape Times who asked him whether his tactical

spelled the end of the war in South West Africa. He answered in the negative and stated that the war would drag on for much longer. "Yes, indeed. It will last as long as there is a single Africa, in the bush".

Although he stated that he would under no circumstances "surrender to the Germans, but only, if need be, to the British Major Elliott", it was the same Major Elliott, accompanied by Hagen and others, who betrayed him and killed him in a battle that lasted over four hours on 20 September 1907 near Eenzamheid, about 100 kilometers north of Upington. This, what the German colonial troops could not achieve on their own, was finally accomplished by Anglo- German collaboration in suppressing the Name uprising by the treacherous murder of Marenga by the very same British authorities whom he trusted.

To his revolutionary spirit and his visionary memory we humbly offer our honor and respect.


Heroes' Acre Windhoek photo of black grantie grave stone of Kahimemua Nguvauva Another revolutionary  son of the Namibian soil and hero of our people, Chief Kahimemua Nguvauva, declared, "While I am alive I will never give land to strangers". Chief Kahimemua Nguvauva's strong beliefs and convictions drew the anger of the German colonialists who decided to physically eliminate him. This lead to intense battles with the German Colonial forces. In 1896, Chief Nguvauva was executed by the German colonial soldiers at Okahandja, because of his fierce resistance to colonialism and foreign occupation

To his revolutionary spirit and his visionary memory we humbly offer our honor and respect.

 

 

 

 


Heroes' Acre Windhoek photo of black grantie grave stone of Samuel Maharero Chief Samuel Maharero wrote the following words to his contemporary Hermanus van Wyk, Captain of the Basters, "I would rather that they annihilate us and take over our lands than go on as we are". With that determination he started to make plans for tan uprising against the German colonial authorities and white German settlers in the country.

As a result, in January 1904 the uprising began and chief Maharero's forces surrounded the German colonial settlers at Okahandja, Omaruru and the famous Battle of Ohamakari near the Waterberg Mountain. The strength of his forces compelled the German colonial troops to send in reinforcements under the notorious General Lotha von Trotha who carried out an extermination order to wipe out all women, children and elderly persons.

This extermination order read as follows:

"Within the German borders, every Herero, with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot. No

women and children will be allowed in the territory; they will be driven back to their people or fired on. These are the last words to the Hereros from me, the great general of the mighty German Emperor". The Hereros retreated tactically while fighting into the waterless Kalahari Desert where the few known water holes were poisoned by the German troops. They died in their tens of thousands after drinking poisoned water. The Nama, resorting once more to guerilla warfare tactics of which they were masters, held out tenaciously for several more years, but due to German troop reinforcements the resistance temporarily ceased. Due to this extermination order, the Herero population had been reduced from about 80,000 to 15,130 and by 1907, the German war machine had exterminated some 60 percent of the population of the then South West Africa. This included more than two-thirds of the herero section as well as half of the Nama and Damara sections of our population.

To his revolutionary spirit and his visionary memory we humbly offer our honor and respect.


Heroes' Acre Windhoek photo of black grantie grave stone of Nehale Mpingana In January 1904, Chief Nehale Lya Mpingana's forces attacked the German Imperial Force at Fort Namutoni and emerged victorious. His warriors captured horses , cattle, wagons and other war material. This is one of the many battles that Chief Nehale and his warriors fought against Afrikaner trekkers and German colonial forces in our people's resistance against colonialism and foreign invaders. He also destroyed the so-called Republic of Upingtonia that was established between Otavi and Grootfontein. Its' founder, William Worthington Jordaan, was killed by Chief Nehale's forces in 1886, leaving the Boer trekkers without a leader. They dispersed afterwards to Angola and some returned to South Africa.

To his revolutionary spirit and his visionary memory we humbly offer our honor and respect.

 

 

 


Heroes' Acre Windhoek photo of black grantie grave stone of Mandume Ya Ndemufayo Chief Mandume ya Ndemufayo, declared that, "If the English want me, I am here. They can come and fetch me. I will not fire the first shot, but I am not a steenbok of the veldt. I am a man, not a woman. I will fight until my last bullet is expended. Yeengulu yeehama (Ojihehenja, yeengulu yehama eso noupika shimue shike). It is better to die fighting than to become a slave of the colonial forces." These were the defiant words of one of Namibia's foremost anti-colonialist fighters. He said these words in defiance when the combined South African, British and Portuguese colonial forces insisted he should surrender. Chief Mandume fought many battles combined against the South Africa, Portuguese and British colonial forces. He died in battle at Oihole.

To his revolutionary spirit and his visionary memory we humbly offer our honor and respect.

 


Heroes' Acre Windhoek photo of black grantie grave stone of Ipumbu Ya Tshilongo Chief Lipumbu ya Tshilongo was a true Namibian nationalist ruler who rejected the idea to pay taxes to the South Africa colonial authorities and who refused to cooperate with them. He also did not allow the missionaries to gain any influence over him or his people. He strongly resisted and did not recognize the authority of the colonial occupiers and invaders. As a result, South African military aircraft bombed his palace at Onashiku with the purpose to kill him. His son Nujoma Titus Kanjika Lipumbu, at the age of eighteen, fired at the enemy aircraft in order to defend his father and the palace. However, his father, Chief Lipumbu ya Tshilongo, was captured, exiled and detained in the Kavango Region and also denied any access to his kingdom. His resistance and strong nationalistic character inspired many people, even in his absence, to continue with the anti-colonial struggle. The prophetic final words of Chief Lipumbu as he was forced into the enemy aircraft were, (Nande mukuatendje ohiina taaja shito jemutse oshiti)/ " Even if you whites take me away from my land my people have the will to come and liberate and restore our human dignity  and independence".

To his revolutionary spirit and his visionary memory we humbly offer our honor and respect.


Heroes' Acre Windhoek photo of black grantie grave stone of Hosea Kutako Chief Hosea Komombumbi Kutako was born in 1890 in the Okahandja district. He participated on the anti colonial was of 1904 as one of the leading commanders. He also played an historic and significant role in petitioning the United Nations Organisation demanding the placement of the then South West Africa under the United Nations trusteeship system with the purpose that the international community should assist the Namibian people to develop towards self-determination and national independence. He also opposed the forcible removal of the residents of the Windhoek Old Location to present-day Katutura which was proclaimed by Verwoerd, the Minister of Native Affairs under Daniel Malan of South Africa, that there should be a buffer zone between the residential areas, those of the whites and the indigenous people.

Chief Kutako was later joined in petitioning the United Nations by Chief Samuel Witbooi, Reverend Thoefilus Hamutumbagela and Sam Nujoma. In this way, he played a major role in Namibia's struggle for freedom and independence.

To his revolutionary spirit and his visionary memory we humbly offer our honor and respect.


Heroes' Acre Windhoek photo of black grantie grave stone of Kakurukaze Mungunda The colonial regime of South Africa continued to increase its repressive laws in the face of greater resistance by the Namibian people. By 1959, the racist regime of apartheid colonialism and oppression decided to forcibly relocate the indigenous residents of Windhoek Old Location to an area the regime had earmarked to create a buffer zone between the indigenous residents of Windhoek Old Location and the white residents of the town of Windhoek. This was well within the warped logic of apartheid planners of racial segregation. The people of the Old Location fiercely resisted the diabolical forcible removal of the Boer regime. The brutal machinery of apartheid oppression used excessive force of heavy weapons, including armored cars, in their attempt to force our people to move to present-day Katutura which was built on the basis of apartheid. On that fateful day, twelve peaceful demonstrators were killed and more than fifty others were injured. In the face of this brutality, a courageous and fearless young woman by the name of Kakurukaze Mungunda demonstrated her bravery and heroism by setting alight the car of De Wet who was the superintendent of the Windhoek Old Location. She was shot on the spot and Killed in
cold blood by the South African apartheid repressive police.

To her revolutionary spirit and his visionary memory we humbly offer our honor and respect.


Our generation and the future generations of Namibians will never forget the selfless sacrifices and courage of these heroes and heroines whom we are honoring here today. Their heroism inspired us all and they will always be remembered by the present and the future generations of our country.

Historically, throughout the world nations and peoples recognize those who fought in defense of their country's freedom and national interest and not the cowards and collaborators who sided with their people's enemies. And that is precisely what we are doing here today. Through the inauguration of this memorial to our national heroes and heroines we reiterate our pledge to protect the lives of our people, defend the territorial integrity, territorial waters and the air space above our land as well as the sovereignty and the independence of the land of our forefathers and mothers. With the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia as our guiding light, we dedicate ourselves to keep the eternal flame at this memorial of our national heroes and heroines burning at all times.

We honor you, heroes and heroines, of the Republic of Namibia. We salute you, sons and daughters, of the soil of the Land of the Brave. We humbly offer you our honor and respect. Your revolutionary bravery inspired us to wage the heroic armed liberation struggle against forces of apartheid colonialism and foreign invaders that you started to fight to its logical conclusion, which was crowned with the final victory of Namibia's independence, 21 March 1990. Today we honor you for the sacrifices you have made. Your blood waters our freedom

With humility and utmost respect I now have the honor to declare the Heroes' Acre of the Republic of Namibia officially inaugurated.

 

Long Live the Republic of Namibia!

 

The Eternal Flame Heroes'Acre Windhoek Namibia

 

Articles of Associated Interest:

Heroes' Acre Introduction

Internat. Human Rights Day

National Flag & Symbols

Namibia's Constitution

Heroes' Acre Inauguration

Namibia's Heroes' & Heroines

Profile of Sam Nujoma

 

This page was produced with the kind cooperation of:

Text reproduced with the kind permission of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

The Namibia National Heritage Council

This page is downloadable in PDF format.

Photographs: Keith Irwin

 
   
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