Andimba Toivo ya Toivo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Andimba Toivo ya Toivo
Minister of Prisons
In office
27 August 2002 – 2006
President Sam Nujoma
Hifikepunye Pohamba
Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab
Nahas Angula
Preceded by Marco Hausiku
Minister of Labour
In office
26 March 1999 – 27 August 2002
President Sam Nujoma
Prime Minister Hage Geingob
Minister of Mines and Energy
In office
21 March 1990 – 26 March 1999
President Sam Nujoma
Prime Minister Hage Geingob
Preceded by position established
Personal details
Born (1924-08-22) 22 August 1924 (age 91)
Omangundu, Oshana Region, South-West Africa
(now Namibia)
Political party SWAPO
Spouse(s) Vicky Erenstein Ya Toivo (m.1993)
Children 2
Religion Christianity

Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo (born 22 August 1924) is a Namibian anti-apartheid activist and politician 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.[1] ya Toivo served 16 years in Robben Island prison. In Namibia he is considered an icon of the liberation struggle.

Early years[edit]

Toivo was born in Omangundu in Oshana Region in the north of Namibia.[2] He attended vocational training at Ongwediva Industrial School and graduated as carpenter in 1939. [3] He worked on a farm until he came to Odibo and attended school at St Mary's Mission School where he completed Standard 6, i.e. 8 years of school. 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 at his alma mater before traveling to South Africa for further studies in 1951.[4] Toivo ya Toivo fought for the Allied Forces during World War II.[5]


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. Toivo ya Toivo made a speech at the trial which was widely publicised thereafter.

'We are Namibians, and not South Africans. We do not now, and will not in the future, recognise your right to govern us; to make laws for us, in which we had no say; to treat our country as if it was your property and us as if you are our masters. We have always regarded South Africa as an intruder in our country. This is how we have always felt and this is how we feel now and it is on this basis that we have faced this trial'.

— Andimba Herman Toivo Ya Toivo, 1967.[6]

On 26 January 1968, he was sentenced by a Pretorian court to 20 years' imprisonment. 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:[5]

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]

Ya Toivo was released on 1 March 1984.[7] 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.[5]

After Independence[edit]

From 1984 to 1991, he was the Secretary General of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO).[1][2] 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.[5]

Toivo was a SWAPO member of the Constituent Assembly, which was in place from November 1989 to March 1990, immediately prior to independence,[1][8] and upon independence in March 1990 he became a member of the National Assembly.[2] He was also Minister of Mines and Energy from 1990[1][2] until his appointment as Minister of Labour on 26 March 1999.[9] After over three years in that position, he was appointed as Minister of Prisons on 27 August 2002, switching posts with Marco Hausiku;[10] he remained Minister of Prisons until 2006.

He chose not to run for a seat in the National Assembly again at the time of the 2004 election, saying that he had "done enough".[11]

Toivo received the eleventh-most votes—358—in the election to the Central Committee of SWAPO at the party's August 2002 congress.[12] 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.[13]

At the SWAPO Congress on 2 December 2012, Andimba ya Toivo was elected as a permanent member of the Central Committee.

Personal Life[edit]

After retiring from active politics, Toivo has now devoted his time to his wife and two daughters, and is running various businesses.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Profile at
  2. ^ a b c d Profile at Namibian Parliament website.
  3. ^ 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). 
  4. ^ Nembwaya, Hileni. "Ya Toivo gave me Namibia". The Namibian (In honour of a legend 90th birthday of ya Toivo supplement, page 10). 
  5. ^ a b c d 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). 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Helao Shityuwete, Never Follow the Wolf, The Autobiography of a Namibian Freedom Fighter, London 1990, pp. 246–47.
  8. ^ List of members of the Constituent Assembly,
  9. ^ "Two-prong strategy in latest reshuffle", The Namibian, 29 March 1999.
  10. ^ Christof Maletsky, "Nujoma shuffles the Cabinet pack", The Namibian, 28 August 2002.
  11. ^ Tangeni Amupadhi, "Major shift in Swapo leadership", The Namibian, 4 October 2004.
  12. ^ "The ruling party's new Central Committee", The Namibian, 27 August 2002.
  13. ^ Christof Maletsky, "Swapo big names dropped", The Namibian, 3 December 2007.

External links[edit]