John Ya-Otto

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This article is about the trade unionist. For the PLAN commander, see John ya Otto Nankudhu.

John Ya-Otto (10 February 1938 - 25 May 1994) was a Namibian trade unionist, politician, author and diplomat. Ya-Otto began a career in politics following the 1959 Old Location Massacre in Windhoek's Old Location black township. Eventually, Ya-Otto fled into exile and worked as SWAPO's labor minister. He established relationships with trade unionists around the world. In 1981, he published his only book Battlefront Namibia, detailing SWAPO's and his own struggle for independence.[1] He was arrested in 1966 following the Battle of Ongulumbashe, which was the opening attack by SWAPO on South African military and police in northern Namibia. He and 38 other SWAPO activists were arrested, with most receiving 10 year prison sentences. However, due to a lack of case against him, Ya-Otto received a five year suspended sentence and was released a month later. Following independence, he returned to Namibia and was elected to the National Assembly of Namibia with SWAPO. Later, he was assigned the position of Ambassador to Angola due to failing health. He died in Luanda on 25 May 1994.[2]


  1. ^ Battlefront Namibia
  2. ^ Obituary: John Ya-Otto Independent, 15 June 1994