Sam Nujoma, a co-founder and former president of the South-west Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) of Namibia. Nujomo was also the first president of the independent Republic of Namibia., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Dr Nujoma - a life well-lived
His Excellency Dr Sam Nujoma, Founding President of the Republic of Namibia was born on May 12, 1929 at Etunda Village.
In 1946 he moved to the coastal town of Walvis Bay and at the age of 17 got his first job in a shop.
While there he was exposed to world politics by meeting soldiers from Argentina, Norway and other parts of Europe who had come during World War II.
In 1949, Dr Nujoma went to live in Windhoek and worked for South African Railways.
He attended night school at St Barnabas and further studied for the Junior Certificate through the Trans-Africa Correspondence College in South Africa.
On May 6, 1956 Dr Nujoma married Kovambo Theopoldine Katjimune and they had four children, one of whom sadly passed away while he was in exile.
With a deep passion for politics and yearning to see his people free from restrictive laws, Dr Nujoma resigned from South African Railways in 1957 at the age of 29 to devote his time to these pursuits.
In 1959, he was elected Leader of the Owambo People's Organization and petitioned the UN in the late fifties - together with Chief Hosea Kutako, Samuel Witbooi, Theophilus Hamutumbangela, Toivo ya Toivo and others – for South West Africa be placed under UN Trusteeship.
Dr Nujoma, Uatja Kaukuetu, Moses Garoeb and others organized resistance against the forcible removal of inhabitants of the Old Location to Katutura, an apartheid settlement.
Apartheid forces massacred 12 unarmed persons on December 10 in retaliation and Dr Nujoma was arrested.
Under a directive of the OPO leadership and in collaboration with Chief Hosea Kutako, he went into exile on March 1, 1960 via the then British Bechuanaland protectorate.
With the assistance of Daniel Munamava he was able to cross Bechuanaland, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, Tanganyika, Kenya and Sudan.
In April 1960, he attended the All-African People's Conference organized by President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.
Dr Nujoma then went to Liberia and reached the USA in June 1960.
He petitioned the UN General Assembly for an end of South African colonial administration.
The South West Africa People's Organization was formed on April 19, 1960 and Dr Nujoma was elected President in absentia.
In March 1966, in a bid to test South Africa's claims at The Hague that Namibians in exile were free to return, Dr Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba returned to Windhoek and were immediately arrested and deported to Zambia.
Dr Nujoma transported the first weapons used at launch of the armed struggle on August 26, 1966 from Algeria via Egypt, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.
Since Namibia's independence, this has been commemorated annually as Heroes' Day on August 26.
Dr Nujoma represented Namibia at the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement on September 1, 1961 in Yugoslavia as well as at the founding of the OAU in Ethiopia on May 25, 1963.
In 1971, he was the first leader of an African nationalist movement to address the UN Security Council in New York leading to the UN General Assembly passing a resolution on the authentic representation of the Namibian people.
From 1977 to 1978, Dr Nujoma led the SWAPO team in talks with the Western Five Contact Group and South Africa on the one hand, and the Frontline States, Nigeria, and SWAPO on the other, culminating in adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 435.
On March 19, 1989 the cease-fire agreement was signed.
In Namibia's first democratic elections, SWAPO won a majority and Dr Nujoma became state President on March 21, 1990.
He was re-elected for two more terms in 1994 and 1999, in recognition of his wise and dynamic leadership.
Dr Nujoma stepped down on March 21, 2005 handing over the power to President Pohamba.
He also stepped down as party president on November 30, 2007 after serving as leader for 47 years.
In his lifetime, Dr Nujoma has been awarded honours and awards such as:
· The Lenin Peace Prize (1973), USSR
· Honorary Doctorate of Law (1982), Ahmadu Bello University , Nigeria
· Ho Chi Minh Peace Award (1988), Vietnam
· Honorary Law Doctorate (1990), Lincoln University , USA
· Honorary Education Doctorate (1993), University of Namibia where he was sworn as the founding Chancellor of the University of Namibia. Dr. Nujoma still serves as the Chancellor of the University of Namibia - Sam Nujoma Foundation