Sam Nujoma

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Person.png Sam Nujoma   WebsiteRdf-icon.png
(activist, politician)
Sam Nujoma.jpg
Sam Nujoma founder of SWAPO and first President of Namibia (1990-2005)
Born 1929-05-12
Ongandjera, Ovamboland, Southwest Africa
Alma mater University of Namibia
Religion Lutheran
Children • Utoni
• John Ndeshipanda Sakaria Nefungo
• Nelago Usuta(Template:Children details)
Spouse Kovambo Theopoldine Nujoma
Founder of South West Africa People's Organisation
Party SWAPO

Employment.png President of Namibia Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
21 March 1990 - 21 March 2005

Employment.png President of SWAPO

In office
19 April 1960 - 29 November 2007

Employment.png President of OPO

In office
19 April 1959 - 19 April 1960

Samuel Daniel "Shafiishuna" Nujoma (born 12 May 1929) is a Namibian anti-apartheid activist and politician who served as the first President of Namibia from 21 March 1990 to 21 March 2005. Sam Nujoma was a co-founder and leader (from 1960 until 2007) of the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) during the long struggle against apartheid South African rule.

Sam Nujoma took office as President when Namibia finally gained its independence on 21 March 1990, was subsequently re-elected in 1994 and 1999, and left office in March 2005.[1] He remains active in the political sphere, regularly campaigning for SWAPO at rallies and functions across the country.

In February 2007, Namibian human rights activist Phil ya Nangoloh reported that former President Sam Nujoma has long term links with South African intelligence and the CIA dating as far back as March 1960, when he travelled to Congo-Kinshasa’s Katanga Province and met its leader Moise Tshombe:[2]

In the late 1970s, SWAPO in-exile shared its London offices with 'superspy' Craig Williamson;
On pages 277 to 279 of his book "Where Others Wavered", Nujoma wrote “unhindered and continued access to raw minerals, strategic minerals and sea lanes” had motivated US policy towards Namibia in the 1970s and 1980s. On page 257 Nujoma credits his close friend, Dr Henry Kissinger, for having “raised our profile among the few countries that objected to our being sole and authentic representative of the people of Namibia”;
On 6 March 2007, in his Internet article entitled "Eliminating Political Opponents", Namibian writer Charles Courtney-Clarke says that Nujoma's confidant and economic adviser Maurice Tempelsman “arrived in Namibia in 1989 to ensure the control of the new Namibian government and De Beers' control of its diamonds”. Evidence reveals that Tempelsman, whose role in the confluence of public policy and private profit as a middleman for the De Beers diamond cartel, helped to shape practically every major covert CIA action in Africa since the early 1950s;

In Phil ya Nangoloh's view, Nujoma's CIA links explain why and how Namibia’s mineral resources remain under the control of Big Business, such as Anglo-American Corporation, Rio Tinto Group and Lonrho.[3]

Early life

Samuel Daniel Nujoma was born at Etunda, a village in Ongandjera, near the town of Okahao, Ovamboland, South-West Africa on 12 May 1929. Nujoma was born to Helvi Mpingana Kondombolo (1898–2008) and Daniel Uutoni Nujoma. He is the eldest of his parents' eleven children. He spent much of his early childhood looking after his siblings and tending to the family's cattle and traditional farming activities. His educational opportunities were limited. He started attending a Finnish missionary school at Okahao when he was ten and completed Standard Six, which was as high as was possible for blacks during the time. In 1946, at age 17, he moved to Walvis Bay to live with his aunt, where he began his first employment at a general store for a monthly salary of 10 Shillings. He would later also work at a whaling station. In 1949, Nujoma moved to Windhoek where he started work as a cleaner for the South African Railways (SAR), while attending adult night school at St Barnabas Anglican Church School in the Windhoek Old Location, mainly with the aim of improving his English. He further studied for his Junior Certificate through correspondence at the Trans‐Africa Correspondence College in South Africa.[4]

Political career

Sam Nujoma became involved in politics in the early 1950s through trade unions. Nujoma's political outlook was shaped by his work experiences, his awareness of the contract labour system, and his increasing knowledge of the independence campaigns across Africa. In 1957, at age 29, Nujoma resigned from SAR so he could devote more time to politics. A year earlier in 1956, he visited Cape Town, South Africa and met a group of Ovambo Namibians working there, including Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, who were opposed to South African policies in South West Africa. In 1957 they formed the Ovamboland People's Congress (OPC). On 19 April 1959 OPC became a nationalist organisation and was renamed Ovamboland People's Organisation (OPO), Nujoma was co-founder and became its first and only president. During the next year he travelled Namibia in secret to spread the word about OPO. In September 1959, he joined the executive committee of the South West Africa National Union (SWANU), which was at the time an umbrella body for anti-colonial resistance groups, including OPO.

After the Old Location Massacre on 10 December 1959, Nujoma was arrested and charged for organising the resistance and faced threats of deportation to the north of the country. By the directive of OPO leadership and in collaboration with Chief Hosea Kutako, it was decided that Nujoma join the other Namibians in exile who were lobbying the United Nations on behalf of the anti-colonial cause for Namibia. In 1960, Nujoma petitioned the UN through letters and eventually went into exile in February of that year. He left Namibia on 29 February 1960, crossing into Bechuanaland and from there travelling to Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia by train. He flew from Bulawayo to Salisbury and on to Ndola in Northern Rhodesia. With the assistance of a member of the Northern Rhodesian United National Independence Party (UNIP) he crossed into the Katanga Province of the Belgian Congo where Nujoma met Moise Tshombe from the Congolese Conakat Party. Crossing back over the border to Ndola he boarded a flight to Mbeya where he was treated for malaria and escaped from the hospital after being threatened with arrest by the British authorities. From Mbeya, Nujoma travelled with the assistance of officials of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) via Njombe, Iringa and Dodoma to Dar-Es-Salaam. With the assistance of Julius Nyerere, then president of TANU, he received a passport. While in Tanganyika, he received permission to address the UN Committee on South West Africa in New York. In April 1960, Nujoma travelled from Tanganyika to Khartoum, Sudan, and from there to Accra, Ghana, where he met Jariretundu Kozonguizi and Michael Scott. In Accra, he attended the All African People's Conference organised by Kwame Nkrumah against the French atom bomb test in the Sahara Desert. He also met African leaders such as Patrice Lumumba, Joseph Kasa-Vubu and Frantz Fanon at the conference. With Nkruhma's assistance he travelled with Kozonguizi via Ghana to the United States. His early encounters with Nkrumah, Lumumba and Gamal Abdel Nasser left a lasting impression and informed his Pan-African outlook. From Ghana, Nujoma travelled to Liberia where a case on South West Africa was being presented to the International Court of Justice.

After breaking away from SWANU, OPO reconstituted itself as the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) in New York on 19 April 1960, Nujoma was elected president in absentia. He arrived in New York in June 1960 where he petitioned before the Sub Committee of the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Nujoma demanded that South West Africa be given its independence by 1963 at the latest. He then returned to Tanganyika in 1961, from where he and a small group of activists would develop SWAPO into an international force. He received support from other African nationalists and received strong backing from Julius Nyerere. Nujoma established SWAPO's Provisional headquarters in Dar-es-Salaam and arranged scholarships and military training for Namibians who had started to join him there. Among the first arrivals were Mzee Kaukungwa, Mosé Tjitendero and Hifikepunye Pohamba.

In 1962, SWAPO founded its armed wing, the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). Nujoma himself procured the first weapons from Algeria] via Egypt, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia, from where they were taken to Omugulugwombashe in Ovamboland. On 21 March 1966, 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 and assertion that they were in self-imposed exile, Nujoma, accompanied by Hifikepunye Pohamba, chartered a plane to Windhoek. On arrival at the airport, they were arrested and deported to Zambia the next day. On 26 August 1966 the first armed clash of the liberation struggle took place when the South African Defence Force and South West African Territorial Force attacked SWAPO-PLAN combatants who had set up a camp at Omugulugwombashe. The attack would mark the beginning of the Namibian War of Independence which would last more than 25 years. In 1969, Nujoma was re-affirmed as SWAPO President at the Tanga Consultative Conference in Tanzania.

In the late 1960s Nujoma continued his diplomatic rounds as SWAPO set up offices across Africa, Europe and the Americas. He represented SWAPO at the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement on 1 September 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia as well as at the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 25 May 1963. In 1965, the OAU recognised SWAPO as the only lawful representative of the Namibian people.[5] In October 1971, he became the first leader of an African nationalist movement to address the United Nations Security Council in New York, leading to the UN General Assembly passing a Resolution declaring SWAPO as "the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian People."

In 1974, the Portuguese empire collapsed and Namibia's border with Angola opened up. Nujoma recognised that this paved the way for major changes in the way the war was being fought and over the next two years SWAPO's military campaign shifted its base from Zambia to Angola. The opening of the border enabled thousands of SWAPO supporters to stream out of Namibia to join the movement in exile. Nujoma's son Utoni Nujoma and his two brothers were among those who arrived in Zambia. In the late 1970s Nujoma led the SWAPO negotiations team between the Western Contact Group (WCG), which consisted of West Germany, Britain, France, US and Canada, and South Africa on the one hand, and the Frontline States and Nigeria on the other, about proposals that would eventually become United Nations Security Council Resolution 435, passed in September 1978. While agreement on Resolution 435, which embodied the plan for free and fair elections in Namibia, was undoubtedly a diplomatic coup, its implementation became bogged down for another ten years. South African delaying tactics and the American president Ronald Reagan administration's decision to link a Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola to Namibian independence frustrated hopes of an immediate settlement. It was not until the Brazzaville Protocol was initialled on 13 December 1988, the New York Accords signed on 22 December 1988 and a cease fire agreement signed on 19 March 1989, that UN Security Council Resolution 435 was finally implemented.

After 29 years in exile, Sam Nujoma returned to Namibia on September 1989 to lead SWAPO to victory in the UN-supervised elections that paved the way for independence. The Constituent Assembly, elected in November 1989, chose him as Namibia's first president. Nujoma was sworn in on 21 March 1990, in the presence of UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, F W de Klerk, president of South Africa, and Nelson Mandela, just released from prison.

President of SWAPO

UNIN's 10th anniversary: Namibians Hidipo Hamutenya, Anton Lubowski, Charles Courtney-Clarke, Sam Nujoma and Hage Geingob with Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda

In 1959 Nujoma co-founded the Ovamboland People's Organisation (OPO) and became its first President. The next year in 1960 he became the first President of the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO). At the time South Africa administered the land under a policy of apartheid, in which the best resources were reserved for those classified white]], while other Namibians were treated as inferior. After years of asking the United Nations to ensure the occupying power South Africa released control of South West Africa, he authorised armed resistance in 1966. This began the Namibian War of Independence, which lasted 24 years. During the struggle, Nujoma took the combat name "Shafiishuna", meaning "lightning", as the name was in his family on his father's side.[6] During the liberation struggle Nujoma was also the Commander in Chief of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).

After serving 47 years as leader of SWAPO, he was succeeded by Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2007. There was speculation that he would be re-elected as SWAPO leader in 2007 and that he was planning to run for president again in 2009.[7] In early October 2007, however, Nujoma said that he had no intention of seeking re-election as SWAPO President and would stand aside in favour of Pohamba.[8][9] Pohamba was accordingly elected unopposed as SWAPO President on 29 November 2007 at a party congress. Nujoma said that he was "passing the torch and mantle of leadership to comrade Pohamba".[10] The congress also decided to give Nujoma the title of Leader of the Namibian Revolution, in addition to his existing title, Founding Father of the Namibian Nation.[11] Choosing to leave active politics, Nujoma was not re-elected to the SWAPO Central Committee or the Politburo,[12] but the congress granted him permission to attend meetings of the Central Committee and Politburo "at his discretion". He may also receive the title of National Chairman of SWAPO.[11]

President of Namibia

At independence, Namibia was gravely divided as a result of a century of colonialism, dispossession, and racial discrimination, compounded by armed struggle and propaganda. For instance, SWAPO had been so demonised by the colonial media and by official pronouncements that most white people, as well as many members of other groups, regarded the movement with the deepest fear, loathing, and suspicion. One of Nujoma's earliest achievements was to proclaim the policy of "national reconciliation", which aimed to improve and harmonise relations amongst Namibia's various racial and ethnic groups. Under his presidency, Namibia made steady if unspectacular economic progress, maintained a democratic system with respect for human rights, observed the rule of law, and worked steadily to eradicate the heritage of apartheid in the interests of developing a non-racial society. Nujoma successfully united all Namibians into a peaceful, tolerant and democratic society governed by the rule of law.

In 1992 Norway decided to stop drought relief to Namibia in response to the purchase of an expensive new presidential jet and two new VIP helicopters. The planes were bought a few weeks after Sam Nujoma had appealed to the international community for drought aid. In 1990 Nujoma initiated a plan for land reform, in which land would be redistributed from whites to blacks. Some 12% of the total commercial farmland in the country was taken away from white farmers and given to black citizens by 2007.[13] However, according to a 1998 statement made by the Cabinet of Namibia "the agricultural base is too weak to offer a sustainable basis for prosperity" and 38% of Namibia's rural population continue to live beneath the poverty line as of 2010.[14]

Nujoma was re-elected as President of Namibia in December 1994 with 76.3% of the vote.[15] The constitution of Namibia was changed to allow Nujoma to run for a third five-year term in 1999; this was justified on the grounds that he had not been directly elected for his first term, and the change applied only to Nujoma. He won the 1999 election with 76.8% of the vote. The constitution did not allow Nujoma to run in November 2004 for a fourth term, and there was not much enthusiasm even within SWAPO to change it again. Hifikepunye Pohamba, described as Nujoma's "hand-picked successor", was elected as the candidate for the presidential election during the SWAPO congress held on 30 May 2004, defeating two other candidates, Nahas Angula and Hidipo Hamutenya. The latter had been dismissed from his post of Foreign Affairs minister by Sam Nujoma barely two days before the congress. Pohamba was elected with a large majority and was sworn in as second President of Namibia on 21 March 2005.

In 1998 Nujoma came to the defence of the Democratic Republic of Congo President Laurent Kabila when his rule came under threat from rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda during the Second Congo War. Namibia became involved in the war on behalf of its commitment to the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Namibian, Angolan and Zimbabwean troops helped Kabila fend off the attacks – a move which Nujoma saw as defending the DRC's sovereignty against outside interference.[16][17][18]

Nujoma was the international patron and a strong supporter of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, based in Namibia.[19]

Investigation by the ICC

In July 2007, the director of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) in Namibia asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the former President's alleged role in the disappearance of thousands of people. The NSHR noted in particular an April 1989 incident in which more than 370 people disappeared and remain unaccounted for. Other disappearances occurred between 1994 and 1999, the group said. The NSHR said it wants Sam Nujoma and three other officials to be investigated for "instigation, planning, supervision, abetting, aiding, defending and or perpetuating" the disappearances of Namibians. These claims have not been substantiated, however.[20]

Marriage and personal life

Sam Nujoma married Kovambo Katjimune on 6 May 1956. The couple had three sons and two daughters; Utoni Nujoma (1952), John Nujoma (1955), Sakaria "Zacky" Nujoma (1957), Nelago Nujoma (1959), who passed away at 18 months while Nujoma was in exile, and Usuta Nujoma (1965). Two decades elapsed before his wife joined him abroad. Nujoma's first-born son, Utoni, is a high ranking politician and member of SWAPO who is both a member of Cabinet and National Assembly of Namibia. His youngest son, Zacky, is a geologist by profession who has interest in business and mining.

Nujoma's mother, Kuku Helvi Mpingana Kondombolo, lived to an exceptionally old age, dying in November 2008; she was reportedly more than 100 years old.[21]

In 2009, Nujoma attained a Master's degree in Geology from the University of Namibia.

Political ideology

Nujoma's approach to politics has been pragmatic rather than ideological. While he has been at pains to give credit to the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc for aiding SWAPO during the struggle, he has also been keen to point out that he was never a Marxist-Leninist and that perceptions of SWAPO as a communist movement were wrongheaded. One of the abiding themes in his speeches after independence has been his belief in Pan-Africanism and the quest against imperialism. During his presidency Nujoma maintained a close relationship with Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, a relationship that saw his name occupying many of the column inches in the international press, which has often portrayed Nujoma as a proto-Mugabe figure. In 2002, at the UN Earth Summit in Johannesburg, Nujoma made a widely publicised attack on British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, accusing him of being responsible for many of the problems in Zimbabwe. Nujoma vowed to follow in Mugabe's footsteps in seizing land, his speech was punctuated by laughter and clapping from many African and developing country delegates, a clear indication of the extent of support for Mugabe.

Honours and recognition

During his lifetime, Sam Nujoma was bestowed Honours and Awards for his outstanding leadership qualities, courage, steadfastness, vigour, commitment and dedication in not only spearheading the Namibian people's national liberation struggle against colonial settlers and apartheid but also for the patriotic and selfless sacrifice of his life for freedom and genuine independence of his people; for his constancy in the principled struggle for justice and equity; for his magnanimity and non-vindictive transition and transformation of post-colonial-apartheid Namibia, especially his foresightedness and vision of the Policy of National Reconciliation and Nation building; for his rare ability to promote and run a multi-racial and peaceful society as well as in recognition of his contribution to the establishment of Democratic foundation, peace and political stability in Namibia, and the enhancement of the dignity of the African people both on the Continent and in the diaspora.

Bibliography

  • Sam Nujoma, Where Others Wavered, The Autobiography of Sam Nujoma, London 2001



References

  1. "Profile: Sam Nujoma"
  2. P. ya Nangoloh, "An expose about Nujoma's CIA connections. Part 1", 7 February 2007.
  3. "Exposé about Nujoma's CIA connections: Part 22"
  4. Hilukilwa, Placido (8 December 2008). "Namibië begrawe sy volksmoeder" [Namibia buries her mother of the nation]. Die Republikein (in Afrikaans). 
  5. "History of Namibia"
  6. Baffour Ankomah, Nujoma – 'No Fourth Term For Me', Swans, 17 November 2003.
  7. John Grobler, "Play it again, Sam", Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa), 4 February 2007.
  8. "Former president Nujoma to quit active politics", African Press Agency, 2 October 2007.
  9. "Namibia's ex-president retires", AFP (News24.com), 3 October 2007.
  10. "Nujoma succeeded by Pohamba", AFP (IOL), 30 November 2007.
  11. a b Brigitte Weidlich, "A title for Nujoma, brickbats for media", The Namibian, 3 December 2007.
  12. Christof Maletsky, "Swapo big names dropped", The Namibian, 3 December 2007.
  13. "Land reform reproducing poverty" IRIN News, 15 November 2007
  14. "Livelihoods after Land Reform"
  15. "Elections in Namibia", African Elections Database.
  16. "Scramble for the Congo Anatomy of an Ugly War"
  17. "No Namibian troops to DRC"
  18. "Namibia will withdraw troops once UN peacekeepers in place"
  19. "CCF recognises Nujoma"
  20. "Namibian group seeks ICC investigation of ex-leader". Reuters, republished on CNN.com. CNN. 31 July 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2007. 
  21. "'Grandmother of the nation' passes away", The Namibian, 27 November 2008.

External links

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