SAM NUJOMA. The Founding President of Namibia. Diplomat,
Freedom Fighter, Statesman - A Synopsis Of His Life And Times.
Sam Nujoma - The Founding President of
Diplomat, Freedom Fighter, Statesman - A Synopsis Of
His Life And Times.
The long and eventful political career of Sam Nujoma began with the
mobilisation of workers in Windhoek, Walvis Bay and other towns in
Namibia. In 1959 he was elected leader of the Owambo People's
Organization (OPO) subsequently the South West People's Organization
(SWAPO). During this time he and Herero Chief Hosea Kutako
petitioned the United Nations to free Namibia from South African
Occupation. Together with Aatja Kaukueto of SWANU and Moses Garoeb,
the late Minister of Labour, and others, he organized resistance
against forcible removal of the inhabitants of the Old Location to
the new township of Katutura, which was based on apartheid policy.
This resistance elected a swift and brutal reaction from the South
African authorities, who on December 10, 1959 massacred 12 unarmed
protestors and wounded many others.
Lobbyist and Diplomat
|The young Sam Nujoma was arrested after these events
for his leading role in organising the
resistance. At the behest of the OPO leadership, and assisted by Chief Kutako, he went into exile
on March 1, 1960. He left through, the then, British Bechuanaland
(Botswana). Helped by Daniel Munamava, he crossed through Rhodesia
(Zimbabwe), Tanganyika (Tanzania), Kenya and Sudan.
He made his appearance on the international stage
at the All-African People's Conference in April 1960, organized by
President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to protest against the French
testing of an atom bomb in the Sahara. During the All-African
People's Conference in Accra, he met with Fanuel Kozonguizi, the
Reverend Michael Scott and many leaders from national liberation
movements in Africa. While in Tanzania, Nujoma sent a telegram to the UN Forth
Committee on South West Africa, requesting a hearing. He gained approval, but had to leave when the post office alerted the
police to his presence in the country.
Sam Nujoma arrived in the United States of America,
via Ghana and Liberia. In New York he petitioned the General
Assembly, and demanded the end of South African colonial rule in
On April 19, 1960, in a bid to test South Africa's
claims at the International Court of Justice at the Hague that
Namibians in exile were free to return, Nujoma, accompanied by
Hifkepunye Pohamba, currently serving as the second elected
President of the Republic of Namibia, chartered a plane to Windhoek.
On arrival at the airport they were arrested, and deported to Zambia
on March 21,1966.
The first weapons in the armed struggle were
transported by Nujoma from Algeria via Egypt, Sudan, Tanzania, and
Zambia, from where they were taken to Ongulumbashe in Namibia's
Omusati Region. This marked the beginning of the armed struggle on
August 26, 1966.
Freedom Fighter and
Commander in Chief of The People's
|Dr. Nujoma represented Namibia at the founding of
the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in September 1961,
and the founding of the Organization of African Unity in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia on May 25, 1963. In 1971, he became the first leader
of an African nationalist movement to address the United Nations
Security Council in New York.
1977 to 1978, Nujoma led the SWAPO team in negotiations with the
five permanent members of the UN, known as the western five, South
Africa, and the Frontline States. This led to the adoption of
Resolution 435, setting out the process by which Namibia should
implementation of this resolution was delayed until 1988, when all parties agreed to a ceasefire. Nujoma signed the ceasefire agreement
on March 19, 1989, and set the scene for the implementation of UN
Security Council Resolution 435.
Namibia's first democratic elections for a Constitutional Assembly,
SWAPO gained a majority and Sam Nujoma was elected to the
Constitutional Assembly. On February 16, 1990, he was
unanimously elected as the first President of the
Republic of Namibia.
President Sam Nujoma was sworn-in on March 21, 1990. In 1994, he was elected
directly by the Namibian people for another five-year term. In
December 1999, he was re-elected as President of the Republic of
Namibia in the national presidential election.
Since 1973 when President
Sam Nujoma received the
Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union, more than 30 honours and
awards for outstanding leadership, courage and total commitment
towards the creation of a non-racial society in Namibia have been
bestowed upon him.
Inaugural Speech Of His Excellency Sam Nujoma
on March 21, 1990
The Founding President
of the Republic of Namibia
and African Statesman
|Honourable Master of Ceremony,
Heads of State and Government,
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. The 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
realized. 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 realization 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
and 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 pre3sence 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
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
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
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
was produced with the cooperation of:
Text reproduced with
the permission of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
The Namibia National Heritage Council
Photographs: 1 and 2 Ministry of Information and
Broadcasting, graphics editing K. Irwin
Photograph: 3 by Marcello
Casal Jr. /Agencia Brasil / 06 Nov 2003
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