Sam Nujoma

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Sam Nujoma
Sam Nujoma.jpg
1st President of Namibia
In office
21 March 1990 – 21 March 2005
Prime Minister Hage Geingob (1990 - 2002)
Theo-Ben Gurirab (2002 - 2005)
Preceded by office established
Succeeded by Hifikepunye Pohamba
President of SWAPO
In office
19 April 1960 – 29 November 2007
Preceded by Himself as president of OPO
Succeeded by Hifikepunye Pohamba
President of OPO
In office
19 April 1959 – 19 April 1960
Preceded by office established
Succeeded by Himself as president of SWAPO
Personal details
Born (1929-05-12) 12 May 1929 (age 84)
Ongandjera, Ovamboland, Southwest Africa (now Namibia)
Political party South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO)
Other political
affiliations
Ovamboland People's Organization
Ovamboland People's Congress
Spouse(s) Kovambo Theopoldine Nujoma
(m. 1956)
Children Utoni Nujoma - 1952
John Ndeshipanda Nujoma - 1955
Sakaria Nefungo Nujoma - 1957
Nelago Nujoma - 1959
Alma mater University of Namibia
Religion Lutheranism
Website www.samnujomafoundation.org

Samuel Daniel Shafiishuna Nujoma[pronunciation?] (born 12 May 1929) is a Namibian politician who was the first President of Namibia from 1990 to 2005. He led the South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) in its long struggle against South African rule and took office as President when Namibia obtained independence on 21 March 1990. He was subsequently re-elected in 1994 and 1999, remaining in office until March 2005. He was President of SWAPO from its founding in 1960 until 2007.

Early life[edit]

Samuel Daniel Nujoma was born at Etunda, a village in Ongandjera, near the town of Okahao, Ovamboland, Southwest Africa on May 12, 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. 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 went to live in Walvis Bay 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 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.[1]

Political career[edit]

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 labor 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 Namibians working there, including Andimba Toivo ya Toivo and Andreas Shipanga, who were opposed to South African policies in South West Africa and wanted it to be placed under United Nations trusteeship. Soon afterwards they formed the Ovamboland People's Congress. On April 19, 1959 Nujoma co-founded the Ovamboland People's Organization (OPO) and became its first and only president. During the next year he traveled 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 organizing the resistance and faced threats of deportation to the north of the country. OPO then decided that he should 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 February 29, 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 Belgian Congo. There Nujoma met Moise Tshombe from the Conakat Party. Crossing back over the border to Ndola he boarded a flight to Mbeya. In Mbeya, 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 organized 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 headquarter 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 1965, the Organization of African Unity recognized SWAPO.

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 March 21, 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 August 26, 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 September 1 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia as well as at the founding of the Organisation of Africa Unity in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 25 May 1963. In October 1971, he was 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 recognized 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, USA 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 withdrawal from Angola to Namibia independence frustrated hopes of an immediate settlement. On 19 March 1989, the signing of the cease-fire agreement with South Africa took place, which resulted in the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 435.

After 29 years in exile, Nujoma returned to Namibia in 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 March 21, 1990, in the presence of Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the UN, Frederik de Klerk, president of South Africa, and Nelson Mandela, just released from prison.

President of SWAPO[edit]

External images
http://www.klausdierks.com/images/Nujoma_1960s.jpg Sam Nujoma (right) with Bishop Colin Winter and Shapua Kaukungua, 1960s. Original source: Namibia State Archive.

In 1960 he became the first President of the South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), having co-founded its forerunner, the Ovamboland People's Organization, in the late 1950s. 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.[2]

President of Namibia[edit]

Nujoma pictured on an HIV billboard in 2004

As head of SWAPO, Nujoma was unanimously declared president upon the victory of SWAPO in a United Nations-supervised election in 1989, and was sworn in by UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar on 21 March 1990.

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.

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 just few weeks after Sam Nujoma had appealed to the international community for drought aid.[3] Many years later, Nujoma is still being criticised for excessive luxury and perks he gets at the cost of Namibian state, that is applying for the status of least developed country.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

Nujoma was re-elected as President of Namibia in December 1994 with 76.3% of the vote.[7] 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.[7] 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 by some[who?] as Nujoma's "hand-picked successor", was elected as the candidate for the presidential election during the SWAPO congress held on the 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 Nujoma barely two days before the congress. Pohamba was elected with a large majority and was sworn in on 21 March 2005.

In 1998 Nujoma came to the defence of Democratic Republic of Congo President Laurent Kabila when his rule came under threat from rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda. 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.

Post-presidency[edit]

Nujoma meets with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Windhoek on 25 June 2009.

While Pohamba replaced Nujoma as the President of Namibia, Nujoma stayed on as President of SWAPO.[8] 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.[9] In early October 2007, however, Nujoma said that he had no intention of seeking re-election as SWAPO President and would stand aside in favor of Pohamba, the Vice-President of SWAPO, later in the year, after 47 years as party leader.[10][11] 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".[12] 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.[13] Choosing to leave active politics, Nujoma was not re-elected to the SWAPO Central Committee or the Politburo,[14] 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.[13]

Nujoma's son Utoni Nujoma is Deputy Minister of Justice and was elected to the Central Committee and Politburo of SWAPO at its November 2007 congress.[13]

The director of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) in Namibia stated that Nujoma had connections to the CIA.[15] The organisation has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Nujoma and what they say is his role in disappearances during his term. To date, these claims have not been substantiated.[16]

Nujoma's mother, Kuku Helvi-Mpingana Kondombombolo, lived to an exceptionally old age, dying in November 2008; she was reportedly more than 100 years old.[17]

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

Despite stepping down from a formal role, Nujoma is still active in the political sphere, regularly campaigning for SWAPO at various rallies and functions across the country.

Marriage[edit]

Nujoma married Kovambo Katjimune Nujoma on 6 May, 1956. The couple had three sons and a daughter, Utoni Nujoma (1952), John Nujoma (1955), Sakaria Nujoma (1957) and Nelago Nujoma (1959), whom passed away at 18 months sadly while Nujoma was in exile. They were all born before Nujoma went into exile in early 1960. Two decades elapsed before his wife joined him abroad. Nujoma's first born son Utoni is a politician who has served in the Namibian government since 1990 and has been a cabinet minister since 2004. While his son Zacky is a businessman in the mining field.

Political ideology[edit]

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 publicized 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[edit]

During his lifetime, 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.

Date of Award Honour/Award Title Reason for Award Awarding Body
1 1973 Lenin Peace Prize USSR
2 1980 Frederic Joliot Curie Gold Medal
3 1984 Medaglia Pontificia (Pope's Medal) Anno VI The Vatican City,Italy
4 1988 Grant Master Order Merit: The Grant Cruz (Highest Order) Brazil
5 1988 Ho Chi Minh Peace Award Vietnam
6 1988 The Namibia Freedom Award For his leadership role in the struggle against apartheid California State University, USA
7 1988 Honorary Citizenship of the City of Atlanta For his leadership role in the struggle for freedom, national independence and social justice Atlanta, USA
8 1988 Recognition granted City and County of San Francisco
9 1988 Recognition granted City of Chicago
10 1988 Recognition granted City of East Palo Alto
11 1990 Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for Disarmament and Development In recognition of his outstanding contribution in leading the people of Namibia to freedom India
12 1991 Medaglia Pontificia (Pope's Medal) Anno XIII The Vatican City, Italy
13 1991 Order of José Marti Cuba
14 1991 Ordre du Merite Congo Republic of Congo
15 1992 Chief of Golden Heart Kenya
16 1992 Order of the National Flag (First Class) Democratic People's Republic of Korea
17 1994 "Grand Cordon" Decoration Tunisia
18 1995 Grand Master of the Order of Welwitschia Namibia
19 1995 Order of Liberty (Highest Cross) Portugal
20 1995 Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger The Hunger Project
21 1996 Order of Good Hope (Gold) South Africa
22 2002 Order of Friendship Award Vietnam
23 2003 O.B.F.F.S. Romania
24 2003 Fellowship Award of the Institute of Governance and Social Research In recognition of his contribution to the liberation of his country, the establishment of Democratic foundation, peace and Political stability in Namibia, and the enhancement of the dignity of the Black Man Institute of Governance and Social Research, Nigeria
25 2004 Companion of the Order of the Star of Ghana (Ghana National Highest Award) As an expression of respect and admiration of the Government and people of Ghana Ghana
26 2004 Founding President of the Republic of Namibia and Father of the Namibian Nation In recognition of his dedication to his selfless sacrifice to the national liberation struggle and nation building Namibian Parliament
27 2004 Lifetime Conservation Award Cheetah Conservation Fund (Nujoma is the international patron of this organisation since 1991)[18]
28 2008 International KIM IL Sung Prize Certificate India
29 2010 Sir Seretse Khama SADC Meda SADC

Honorary Doctorates[edit]

Date of Award Title Awarding University
1 1973 Honorary Doctorate of Law Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
2 1986 Certificate of Honour University of Ibadan, Nigeria
3 1990 Honorary Doctorate Degree of Law Lincoln University, USA
4 1992 Honorary Doctorate Degree of Technology Federal University of Technology, Nigeria
5 1993 Honorary Doctorate Degree in Education University of Namibia
6 1993 Honorary Doctorate Degree of Law Central State University, USA
7 1996 Doctor of Laws University of Atlanta, USA,
8 1997 Honorary Doctorate Degree of Laws State University of New Jersey, USA
9 1998 Honorary Doctorate Degree Russian Economic Academy, Russia
10 1998 Honorary Doctorate Degree Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, Russia
11 1999 Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service La Roche College, USA
12 1999 Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws University of Zimbabwe
13 2003 Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Nigeria
15 2005 Honorary Doctorate in Public Management Polytechnic of Namibia, 2005.[19]
14 2006 Honorary Professor China University of Geosciences

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hilukilwa, Placido (8 December 2008). "Namibië begrawe sy volksmoeder" [Namibia buries her mother of the nation]. Die Republikein (in Afrikaans). 
  2. ^ Baffour Ankomah, Nujoma - 'No Fourth Term For Me', Swans, 17 November 2003.
  3. ^ [1], 6 August 1992.
  4. ^ http://www.hellonam.com/blogs/nshr/600-21-million-dollar-office-nujoma.html
  5. ^ Land reform reproducing poverty IRIN News, 15 November 2007
  6. ^ http://www.lac.org.na/projects/lead/Pdf/livelihoods_report_a.pdf
  7. ^ a b Elections in Namibia, African Elections Database.
  8. ^ "NAMIBIA: Election expected to be low-key", IRIN, 12 November 2004.
  9. ^ John Grobler, "Play it again, Sam", Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa), 4 February 2007.
  10. ^ "Former president Nujoma to quit active politics", African Press Agency, 2 October 2007.
  11. ^ "Namibia's ex-president retires", AFP (News24.com), 3 October 2007.
  12. ^ "Nujoma succeeded by Pohamba", AFP (IOL), 30 November 2007.
  13. ^ a b c Brigitte Weidlich, "A title for Nujoma, brickbats for media", The Namibian, 3 December 2007.
  14. ^ Christof Maletsky, "Swapo big names dropped", The Namibian, 3 December 2007.
  15. ^ P. ya Nangoloh, An expose about Nujoma's CIA connections. Part 1, 7 February 2007.
  16. ^ "Namibian group seeks ICC investigation of ex-leader". Reuters, republished on CNN.com (CNN). 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  17. ^ "'Grandmother of the nation' passes away", The Namibian, 27 November 2008.
  18. ^ "President Nujoma Given Conservation Award". CCF News. Spring 2005. 
  19. ^ Philander, Frederick (Frederick Philander 11 April 2005). "Namibia: Do We Have What It Takes?". New Era. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Position created
President of Namibia
1990 – 2005
Succeeded by
Hifikepunye Pohamba