Namibian War of Independence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Namibian War of Independence
Part of the Cold War and the South African Border War
Geopolitical situation, 1978. States friendly to the nationalist guerrillas are denoted in red, and Namibia itself presented in a maturing pink.
Date 26 August 1966 – 21 March 1990
(23 years, 6 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)
Location South-West Africa (Namibia)
South-West Africa gains independence from South Africa as Republic of Namibia.

Anti-communist forces:
 South Africa
South Africa South-West Africa Supported by:


African nationalist forces:


Commanders and leaders
South Africa Gerrit Viljoen
South Africa Willie van Niekerk
South Africa Louis Pienaar
South Africa BJ Vorster
South Africa Pieter Willem Botha
Cornelius Njoba
Peter Kalangula
Jonas Savimbi

Flag of South-West Africa People's Organisation.svg Sam Nujoma
Flag of South-West Africa People's Organisation.svg Andimba Toivo ya Toivo
Flag of South-West Africa People's Organisation.svg Dimo Hamaambo
Flag of South-West Africa People's Organisation.svg Julius Shaambeni Shilongo Mnyika
Flag of South-West Africa People's Organisation.svg Peter Mweshihange

Flag of South-West Africa People's Organisation.svg Solomon Huwala

~71,000 (1989)[1][17]
South Africa South Africa:
30,743 SADF troops
10,000 irregulars
South Africa South-West Africa:
22,000 SWATF troops

8,300 SWAPOL police

Flag of South-West Africa People's Organisation.svg 1989:[18]

32,000 guerrillas
Casualties and losses
2,038[19] – 2,500[20] 11,335[21]

The Namibian War of Independence, which lasted from 1966 to 1990 and gained independence for the country, was a guerrilla war which the nationalist South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) and others fought against the apartheid government of South Africa. It had occupied and controlled the territory since 1915, during World War I. This independence movement was closely intertwined with the South African Border War.

South Africa had administered what was then still known as South West Africa since it captured the German territory in 1915 during World War I. It received a League of Nations mandate in 1920 (via the United Kingdom) to administer the territory.

In the post-World War II period, indigenous peoples of Africa organized in numerous movements to gain independence from colonial powers. Among them were members of freedom movements in Namibia, who petitioned the United Nations to withdraw its mandate from South Africa, claiming its administration abused its peoples.

In 1966 the United Nations General Assembly, successor to the League of Nations, revoked South Africa's mandate to govern South-West African territory and declared that it was under direct UN administration. South Africa refused to recognise this resolution and continued to administer the territory de facto.[22]

On 26 August 1966, South African Defence Force launched an attack against a SWAPO guerrilla forces training camp at Omugulugwombashe.[23][24] It was the first armed battle in the Namibian struggle for independence.[25] In commemoration of the day, 26 August is a public holiday in Namibia. It is recognised by the United Nations as Namibia Day[26] but Namibians refer to it as Heroes' Day.

The war ended with the New York Accords signed on 22 December 1988, which also ended direct involvement of foreign troops in the Angolan Civil War. A Constituent Assembly was organized to draft a constitution. Namibia celebrated independence on 21 March 1990, following elections in which SWAPO won 55 of 72 seats in the National Assembly of Namibia, enabling them to form a national government.[27] They have maintained power since then.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Fryxell, Cole. To Be Born a Nation. p. 13. 
  2. ^ Cuba Annual Report: 1986, 1986. Page 538-539.
  3. ^ Land Mines in Angola, 1993. Page 6.
  4. ^ The Soviet Union and Revolutionary Warfare: Principles, Practices, and Regional Comparisons, 1988. Page 140-147
  5. ^ Namibia: The Road to Self-government, 1979. Page 41.
  6. ^ The Foreign Policy of Yugoslavia, 1973–1980, 1980. Page 125
  7. ^ Yugoslavia in the 1980s, 1985. Page 265.
  8. ^ Interparliamentary Union Conference, Sofia, Bulgaria: Report of the United States Delegation to the 64th Conference of the Interparliamentary Union, Held at Sofia, Bulgaria, 21–30 September 1977. Page 42
  9. ^ Record of Proceedings -International Labour Conference 6, 1982. Page 4.
  10. ^ Tanzania: A Political Economy, 2013. Page 355.
  11. ^ SWAPO and the Struggle for National Self-determination in Namibia, 1980. Page 33.
  12. ^ "Rhodesian Insurgency – Part 2". Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  13. ^ Imagery and Ideology in U.S. Policy Toward Libya 1969–1982, 1988. Page 70.
  14. ^ SWAPO Information Bulletin," 1983. Page 37.
  15. ^ AAPSO Presidium Committee on Africa held in Algeria, 17–18 February 1985, 1985. Page 26.
  16. ^ David A. Granger. "Forbes Burnham and the Liberation of Southern Africa" (PDF). Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  17. ^ Tsokodayi, Cleophas Johannes. Namibia's Independence Struggle: The Role of the United Nations. pp. 1–305. 
  18. ^ "World Bank discussion paper no. 331: Africa technical department series : Case". Greenstone. 1996. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "SA Roll of Honour: List of Wars". Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  20. ^ Reginald Herbold Green. "Namibia : The road to Namibia – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  21. ^ "Military Chronicle of South-West Africa". Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  22. ^ "Namibian War of Independence 1966–1988". Armed Conflict Events Database. Retrieved 30 November 2009. 
  23. ^ "Grensoorlog / Bushwar Episode 1 - Head To Head", Linda de Jager, NuMetro, January 1 2009 (at 16:28).
  24. ^ Oswald Shivute (23 May 2014). "Pohamba unveils statues at Omugulugwombashe". The Zambezian. 
  25. ^ Petronella Sibeene (17 April 2009). "Swapo Party Turns 49". New Era. 
  26. ^ United Nations Conferences and Observances
  27. ^ "Namibian Voters Deny Total Power to SWAPO," by Michael Johns, The Wall Street Journal, 19 November 1989..

External links[edit]