25TH MARCH 2021
STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY
DR. SAM NUJOMA, FOUNDING FATHER OF THE NAMIBIAN NATION AND FIRST PRESIDENT
OF THE REPUBLIC OF NAMIBIA, ON THE
OCCASION OF THE 6TH VIRTUAL CONFERENCE OF THE AFRICAN HISTORY MONTH
I am honoured to have been invited to speak on the 6th Virtual Conference of the African History Month that serves to celebrate the achievements of people of African descent and acknowledge the contributions that Africa has made to the world’s civilizations.
58 years ago, the Founding Fathers – Heroes and Heroines of the African Revolution – founded the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the forerunner of the African Union (AU). Therefore, I join millions of Africans on the African continent and those in the Diaspora to celebrate the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Before I focus on the founding of the OAU, allow me to look at Africa’s glorious but painful history of slave trade and colonialism. With the advent of industrialization in Europe and North America, the continent of Africa served as the ideal supplier of slaves who were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to work on the sugar and cotton plantations, especially in the Americas.
European powers at the time conquered the African continent through the force of arms and seized large portions of our ancestral lands, colonized our people and exploited our natural resources. The brutality and notorious cruelty of colonialism led to almost total annihilation of African populations in various countries such as the Belgian, Congo and the Nama and Herero communities in the former German South West Africa now Namibia.
On the 25th of May 1963, 32 independent African States met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to sign a historic Charter, establishing the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
I personally attended this historic and memorable occasion representing SWAPO and the oppressed Namibian masses.
As Africans, we should be proud that throughout the continent our people took up bows and arrows, machetes and knob-kierries and fought against the forces of colonialism and foreign oppression.
After the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, Africa’s struggle against colonialism reached new heights. Pan-Africanism became the philosophy of Africa’s political emancipation, economic recovery and cultural revival.
It is the pioneers from the Diaspora who defined the dictates of white supremacy and gave us trust and confidence in Africa’s future destiny and progress towards self-determination.
I would therefore salute the pioneers of Pan-Africanism from the Diaspora, among them, Marcus Garvey, Dr W.E.B Dubois, George Padmore and Sylvester Williams, and, above all, the first Black President, and former slave, in the Americas, Toussaint L’oeverture of the Republic of Haiti. The Republic of Haiti was the first independent state in the whole of the Americas after the United States of America.
African leaders on the continent pursued the ideals of Pan-Africanism and mobilized the African people into a formidable anti-colonial resistance to eradicate colonialism; leading to various African countries achieving independence in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
At this juncture, I would like to pay special tribute to one of Africa’s founding fathers and revolutionaries, President Kwame Nkrumah, first President of the Republic of Ghana.
President Kwame Nkrumah hosted the All-African Peoples Conference in Accra, Ghana, in 1958 in order to express Africa’s solidarity against colonialism and the fight for genuine freedom and total independence of the African continent from colonial occupation. President Nkrumah declared that Ghana’s independence will be meaningless, unless it was linked to the total liberation of Africa. He became one of the founders of the OAU on the 25th May 1963.
I also salute other African Revolutionaries such as Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Emperor Haille Selasie of Ethiopia, Ahmed Sekou Touré of Guinea, Modibo Keita of Mali, Patrice Lumumba of DRC, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, Nnandi Azikiwe, Murtala Mohamed of Nigeria, Julius Kambarage Nyerere of Tanzania, Jomo Kenyata of Kenya, David Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Augustinho Neto of Angola and others who made contributions to the total liberation of the African continent.
Among the aims and objectives of the OAU was to promote unity and solidarity of the African states, defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and eradicate all forms of colonialism and apartheid from the face of the African continent.
Immediately after its formation, the OAU established the Co-ordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa, which became popularly known as the Liberation Committee. Although Tanzania had just attained its independence, the Government and people of Tanzania under the visionary leadership of President Julius Kambarage Nyerere offered the Liberation Committee premises to establish its Headquarters in Dar-es-Salaam and further provided shelter and training bases and facilities at Kongwa and Nashingweya to various national liberation movements in Africa.
It was from there where national liberation movements, particularly from the remaining colonies in central and southern Africa were trained in military strategies, use of fire arms, reconnaissance, as well as in scientific guerilla warfare tactics
in order to intensify the armed liberation struggle and liquidate the remaining minority white colonial regimes in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Sao Tome & Principe, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.
In addition, upon its attainment of independence in 1964, the Government of Zambia provided all-around support to the national liberation movements from different countries in Southern Africa. It was through this support that today the people of Namibia under the leadership of SWAPO attained genuine freedom and independence.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude to the people of Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Cuba for their political, moral and material support to the people of Namibia during the difficult days of our national struggle for freedom and independence.
I would like to particularly salute the people and Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for their unwavering support and solidarity to the people of Namibia during the liberation struggle. Nigeria, under the leadership of Murtala Mohamed became a member of the Frontline states and rendered all round political, diplomatic and material support to SWAPO.
On this occasion of the 6th Virtual Conference of the African History Month, our hearts are filled with pride as we remember the achievements of our fore-bears who were inspired by a collective vision, courage and commitment.
Without their thoughts and actions towards re-shaping Africa’s destiny and making the dreams come true for the masses of our oppressed people, the OAU would not have been founded.
The Liberation of the African continent would not have been achieved without the support and solidarity from peace loving countries such as the former Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, the Former Eastern Countries, Cuba, India and other members of the Non-Aligned Movement and Anti-Apartheid Movement.
In addition, we also pay our profound gratitude to the Afro-Asian Solidarity Organisation, whose member countries rendered political, diplomatic and material support to the National Liberation Movements in Africa. Likewise, we express our sincere appreciation to the Anti-Apartheid Movements in Europe and the Americas which provided humanitarian support and assistance to our National Liberation Movements in Africa.
On this occasion of the 6th Virtual Conference of the African History Month, we should particularly pay homage to the Government and revolutionary people of Cuba led by Commandate Fidel Castro Ruz who actively participated in the total liberation of the African continent.
Indeed, it was the Government of the Republic of Angola whose FAPLA forces combined with the Cuban internationalist troops and the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), SWAPO’s Military Wing, who launched the decisive battle at Cuito Cuanavale where the enemy troops were defeated.
This forced the minority white apartheid regime of South Africa to negotiate for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 435 of 1978 culminating in the attainment of the genuine freedom and independence of Namibia on the 21st March 1990, as well as the eventual collapse of the white minority apartheid regime in South Africa in April 1994, when our sister party of the ANC under the leadership of Comrade President Nelson Mandela won the first ever free and democratic elections in South Africa.
Today, Africans stand tall among all the peoples of the world as free, independent peoples and charting their own future destiny.
Now that the African continent has achieved its political freedom and independence, we should vigorously embark upon the second phase of the struggle, namely to bring about social and economic independence.
The struggle for economic independence will be long and difficult. It requires embarking upon scientific research, proper planning, and hard work. As we are all aware, the African continent is endowed with abundant natural resources. Our economic strength depends substantially on our mastery of science and technology. It is this very same mastery that enables any country’s citizens to fully exploit its natural resources and wealth. For Africa to succeed, we must join hands and work as a team.
It is important that we tap on the expertise and financial capital of our brothers in the Diaspora and embark upon strategies which promote manufacturing and adding value to our natural resources. It is only in that manner that we will be able to create wealth, enhance economic growth and improve the competitiveness of our economies in the international markets.
I believe that one of the effective strategies to reach our goals is through educating and training our youth, especially in the scientific fields so that we can produce our own engineers, scientists and other technical personnel who will play an active role in the industrialization and modernization of our economies.
Thus, our efforts to promote continental integration must place education of our people at the top of our priorities, as key elements in addressing development challenges.
As Africans, we have a responsibility to promote peace and security on the continent because when peace is restored, Africa as a whole stands to benefit. We must therefore consolidate, guard and defend our hard won freedom, democracy, peace, security and political stability.
Thus, it is imperative for our Governments to support the efforts of the African Union Peace and Security Council in order to maintain peace and stability and enhance economic development on the continent.
Against this background, I call upon our youth to strengthen their bonds of unity and solidarity and to remain vigilant and ready to defend the territorial integrity as well as the air space and territorial waters of the entire African continent against foreign aggressors, whose foreign policy is premised on an axis of strategic interests, which include among others, to secure strategic minerals on the continent as they are now bankrupt.
As Africans we must unite, because it is only when we are united that we can successfully enhance the total integration of the continent with one Defence Force, an African Central Bank, a single African currency and a single passport.
As I always say, a united people striving to achieve the common good for all members of the society, will always emerge victorious.
Long Live the Spirit of Pan-Africanism!
Long Live the African Union!
I thank you.