Andimba Toivo ya Toivo
|Andimba Toivo ya Toivo|
|Minister of Prisons|
27 August 2002 – 2006
|Prime Minister||Theo-Ben Gurirab
|Preceded by||Marco Hausiku|
|Minister of Labour|
26 March 1999 – 27 August 2002
|Prime Minister||Hage Geingob|
|Minister of Mines and Energy|
21 March 1990 – 26 March 1999
|Prime Minister||Hage Geingob|
|Preceded by||position established|
22 August 1924 |
Omangundu, Oshana Region, South-West Africa
|Spouse(s)||Vicky Erenstein Ya Toivo (m.1993)|
Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo (born 22 August 1924) is a Namibian anti-apartheid activist, politician and political prisoner who was active in the pre-independence movement and one of the co-founders of the South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) in 1960, and its predecessor the Ovamboland People's Organization (OPO) in 1959. ya Toivo served 16 years in Robben Island prison in the same section as Nelson Mandela. He was released from prison in 1984 and rejoined SWAPO in exile in Lusaka, Zambia. He returned to Namibia in 1989 in the wake of the country's independence and served as a Member of Parliament and as a Cabinet Minister in Sam Nujoma's government. ya Toivo retired from active politics in 2006. He is considered an icon of the liberation struggle in Namibia.
Andimba Toivo ya Toivo was born in Omangundu, Ovamboland, Southwest Africa. He attended vocational training at Ongwediva Industrial School between 1939 and 1942.  He worked on a farm until he came to Odibo and attended school at St Mary's Mission School where he completed Standard 6. He had to change his religion from Lutheran to Anglican in order to be admitted. He stayed on until 1950, graduating as a teacher, and he successfully operated a store at Ondangwa. Ya Toivo taught at St Cuthberth's School at Onamutayi and St. Mary's Odibo before travelling to South Africa for further studies in 1951. Toivo ya Toivo fought for the Allied Forces during World War II.
ya Toivo left for Cape Town in 1951 and was employed as a railway police officer between 1952 and 1953. He organized with political movements such as the Modern Youth Society (MYS) which was constituted by university students and trade unionists. He became the Deputy Chairman of the MYS, which organized festivals, lectures, discussion groups and night schools for activists who pursued further education. He joined the African National Congress (ANC) at Cape Town in 1957. Later that year, he co-founded the Ovamboland People's Congress (OPC), forerunner of the Ovamboland People's Organization (OPO). He also established close contacts with the two South African parties the Congress of Democrats and the Liberal Party. The OPC sought to fight for the rights of migrant workers, some of whom had deserted the exploitative South West African Native Labour Association (SWANLA). The organization also mobilized against the incorporation of Namibia into South Africa, and therefore shared a political allegiance with other organizations in South Africa. In December 1958, ya Toivo succeeded in sending a petition to the United Nations, with the assistance of Mburumba Kerina and Michael Scott. Consequently he was deported from Cape Town, first to Keetmanshoop and Windhoek and later to Ovamboland, where he was placed under house arrest in his home village Oniipa.
ya Toivo stayed in constant close contact with Leonard Auala from the Evangelical Lutheran Ovambo-Kavango Church. Because of OPO's deep roots in the Ovambo people, Evangelical Lutheran Ovambo-Kavango Church subsequently gave its support to this national liberation movement. Members and supporters of OPO were also members of the congregation. The people, church and national liberation movement coincided. On its anniversary, 19 April 1960, OPO reconstituted itself as the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) in New York, ya Toivo was appointed Secretary General. South Africa immediately labelled SWAPO a "communist" organization. After its reconstitution, SWAPO founded its military wing, the South West Africa Liberation Army (SWALA), the forerunner of PLAN, in 1962 and launched the armed struggle against the South African administration in 1965. On 26 August 1966 the first armed clash of the liberation struggle took place when the South African forces attacked SWAPO soldiers at Omugulugwombashe. This would mark the beginning of the Namibian War of Independence which would last more than 25 years.
Because of his political activities in support of Namibian independence, ya Toivo was arrested in 1966 by the South African authorities. In his trial in August 1967 between, 'The state v. Tuhadeleni and 36 Others', Toivo Ya Toivo appeared as Accused No. 21. Eliaser Tuhadeleni, Nathaniel Maxuilili amongst other members of the Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), the armed military wing of SWAPO, were tried in the first trial under South Africa’s Terrorism Act of 21 June 1967. The Terrorism Act was applied retrospectively to convict these political activists from Namibia. The speech he made on behalf of his group after his conviction gained renowned for its pronouncements denying South Africa the right to try Southwest African citizens or to rule their country. His speech from the dock made headlines and became an internationally circulated key document to rally support for the Namibian liberation struggle.
Ya Toivo was held in solitary confinement in Pretoria for more than a year before the sentence. On 26 January 1968, he was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment by the Pretoria Supreme Court. He was incarcerated at Robben Island, near Cape Town, where he spent most of his time isolated from his fellow countrymen. As a prisoner he was not an easy fellow, never showing remorse and often up for a fight with the authorities. Fellow Robben Island inmate Mike Dingake remembers:
A few meters from my cell, [...] warders tried to push Toivo ya Toivo intolerably around. Andimba unleashed a hard open-hand smack on the young warder's cheek, sending [his] cap flying and the young warder wailing 'Die kaffer het my geslaan'" [The nigger beat me]
On March 1, 1984 ya Toivo was released from Robben Island. On his day of release he had to be lured out of his cell, not happy to have gained freedom by himself with many comrades still behind bars. After a brief stay in Windhoek he left for Lusaka to rejoin his comrades in exile. He subsequently became a member of the SWAPO Central Committee and Politburo and was elected SWAPO Secretary General in 1984.
From 1984 to 1991, he was the Secretary General of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO). In the advent of Namibia's independence, a showdown was expected between Sam Nujoma, who had spent many years in exile, and ya Toivo, incarcerated at Robben Island. Ya Toivo avoided this conflict, "settling" for the post of Minister of Mines and Energy, leaving Nujoma the presidency.
Toivo was a SWAPO member of the Constituent Assembly, which was in place from November 1989 to March 1990, immediately prior to independence, and upon independence in March 1990 he became a member of the National Assembly. He was also Minister of Mines and Energy from 1990 until his appointment as Minister of Labour on 26 March 1999. After over three years in that position, he was appointed as Minister of Prisons on 27 August 2002, switching posts with Marco Hausiku; he remained Minister of Prisons until 2006.
Toivo received the eleventh-most votes—358—in the election to the Central Committee of SWAPO at the party's August 2002 congress. At SWAPO's November 2007 congress, Toivo failed to be elected to the SWAPO Politburo for the first time in the party's history. This was attributed to Toivo's purported link to the opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), a party that had been founded as a split from SWAPO shortly before the congress. Toivo denied being linked to the RDP, but the claim was believed to have influenced the vote.
At the SWAPO Congress on 2 December 2012, Andimba ya Toivo was elected as a permanent member of the Central Committee.
After retiring from active politics, Toivo has now devoted his time to his wife and two daughters, and is running various businesses.
Awards and honours
- HMS Challenger, a ship renamed as MV Ya Toivo after him
- Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Senior Secondary School
- Profile at klausdierks.com.
- http://www.namibian.com.na/public/uploads/documents/00ebfdf6eb2f1/toivo.pdf page 5, From the Nelson Mandela Foundation
- Profile at Namibian Parliament website.
- Nembwaya, Hileni; Shivute, Oswald. "Hilundwa and his best friend, Ya Toivo". The Namibian (In honour of a legend 90th birthday of ya Toivo supplement, page 10).
- Nembwaya, Hileni. "Ya Toivo gave me Namibia". The Namibian (In honour of a legend 90th birthday of ya Toivo supplement, page 10).
- Dingake, Mike. "Prison authorities had to trick him out of the cell". The Namibian (In honour of a legend 90th birthday of ya Toivo supplement, page 12).
- Tate Andimba in summary Confidente Newspaper, August 29, 2014
- Helao Shityuwete, Never Follow the Wolf, The Autobiography of a Namibian Freedom Fighter, London 1990, pp. 246–47.
- List of members of the Constituent Assembly, parliament.gov.na.
- "Two-prong strategy in latest reshuffle", The Namibian, 29 March 1999.
- Christof Maletsky, "Nujoma shuffles the Cabinet pack", The Namibian, 28 August 2002.
- Tangeni Amupadhi, "Major shift in Swapo leadership", The Namibian, 4 October 2004.
- "The ruling party's new Central Committee", The Namibian, 27 August 2002.
- Christof Maletsky, "Swapo big names dropped", The Namibian, 3 December 2007.