By Mocks Shivute
I am truly saddened by the passing on of one of Namibia’s most revered liberation struggle stalwarts and icons: Uncle Hidipohamba Livius Hamutenya on 7 October 2016 at Lady Pohamba Private Hospital in Windhoek.
The demise of Uncle HH, as he was fondly known, will not only leave a void in my life, but in the hearts, minds and psyche of the overwhelming bodies and souls of those who knew him.
I knew HH as a young boy from the then Old Location in Windhoek. Our family bonds date back to the 1950s when two old friends, name-sakes and comrades; namely Mr. Aaron Shivute, my grandfather, and Mr. Aaron Hamutenya, HH’s father, worked closely together with Tatekulus Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Hiskia Kondombolo, Gabriel Mbindi, Tobias Akwenye and others to bring to existence and life the precursors and ultimately the mighty and ruling SWAPO party that we all know today. Oral history has it that my grandfather first came to the then Old Location and he used his legally acquired documents to smuggle his close friend and namesake to the Old Location.
To keep the flame burning, my 16 year-old son carries the name of the two legends; Aaron Hamutenya Shivute.
The rest is history, but the Shivute and Hamutenya close family ties continue flourishing to this date to an extent that I was honoured and privileged by the request from the family to be the Director of Ceremonies at the Memorial Services of grand-mother Meekulu Mukwaluvala Laimi Ndeipala Hamutenya, HH’s mother on 27 June 2014. It was a challenge I embraced with reverence, humility and open arms.
To me, HH was not only an uncle, but a hero, mentor and light who so much inspired me, and, most importantly, had a life-long impact on my life and made me what I am today.
In 1983, during a SWAPO Enlarged Central Committee (CC) meeting in Kwanza-Sul, Angola, the then Director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia (UNIN) and Member of the Central Committee, now His Excellency the President of the Republic of Namibia, Dr Hage G. Geingob, found Uncle HH dictating a CC document to me and he stopped, stared and said “you will not go wrong in life”. That prediction stood the test of time.
In 1983, a year before I completed my Master’s Degree in Journalism from the Belorussian State University in the then Union of Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR), we arrived in Lusaka, Republic of Zambia, with my good friend, late John Ndeshipanda Packy Nujoma, for some job attachments. Uncle HH, then SWAPO Secretary for Information & Publicity called us to his office and said: “I know you have been studying journalism for years in the USSR, but I will send you to Harare, Zimbabwe, for a short course in Economics Reporting to be conducted by veteran journalist, Ruth Weiss.” Unfortunately, my good friend John did not make it to Harare since he was preparing for his wedding scheduled to take place the following month in Moscow. I was privileged to be his best man.
I went ahead and attended the abridged but intensive course which had an impact on my journalism career and changed my perspective about journalism. When I completed my studies in June 1984, I came to Lusaka and had a brief stint at the SWAPO Department of Information & Publicity and thereafter arrangements were made for me to work at the Zambia Daily Mail for some months. Thereafter, Uncle HH approached me and told me that there is a need to prepare cadres in multifaceted and various fields for an independent Namibia. He then got me and others scholarships from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to pursue studies for a Post-Graduate Diploma in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana in 1985.
Upon completing my studies in Ghana, he once more called and informed me that he has made arrangements for me to gain experience at the continental Dakar-based Pan-African News Agency (PANA) where I met a good and professional friend, the late Mr. Farayi Munyuki from Zimbabwe.
After the attainment of Namibia’s political independence, Mr Munyuki was invited by Uncle HH to come and assist in setting up the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, as it was referred to then.
After a spell of one year at PANA in Senegal, I was recalled by Uncle HH to Luanda in 1986 to come and assist with the setting up of the SWAPO news agency, Namibian Press Association.
During the launching of the Namibian Press Association, we invited sister news agencies, such as Zana (Zambia), Ziana (Zimbabwe), Angop (Angola) and AIM (Mozambique). On the same day there was a Unita Captain who was captured by the Angolan armed forces FAPLA and we were all invited, including the just to be launched SWAPO news agency, to the press conference. Realising that this is an opportunity not to be missed, I took it upon myself to cover the press conference since I could understand a bit of Portuguese. After the press conference, I immediately dispatched my story through telex to the continental news agency, PANA for re-distribution which was done instantly.
Amongst the journalists who attended the press conference was well-known Mozambican investigative journalist, late Mr. Carlos Cardoso, who was later assassinated for investigating and exposing corruption in that country.
After the press conference, instead of filing his story, the late Mr. Cardoso was chatting all over and by the time he called AIM to tell them that he has a scoop, Mr Paul Fauvet, the then Editor of the Mozambican news agency, told him that they have already received the Namibian Press Association story through PANA.
When I told then SWAPO Secretary for Information & Publicity, HH, he jumped and made a “few calls”, to express his pride. After independence in May 1990, Uncle HH, founding Minister of Information & Broadcasting, called me telephonically and instructed me to set up the national news agency, NAMPA. After a few minutes holding on the phone, I got the courage and asked how?
Thereafter, the ‘man of few words who speaks when he has to speak’ told me emphatically that “I sent you to school and gave you opportunities …go ahead with Comrades Mvula Nangolo, Chris Shipanga and Nghidinua Hamunime with technical support of the former Ziana Editor-in-Chief, Farayi Munyuki and set up the national news agency”.
Today NAMPA counts among its luminary and agenda setting authorities, products, such as, Tangeni Amupadhi, Chrispin Inambao, Max Hamata, Soini Negongo, Isack Hamata, the current CEO of Nampa, Sandie Tjaronda, Luna Ramphaga, Dr Maria Nghidinua and many others.
I will be remiss if I do not state that not all things were rosy for some of us since 2007 when Uncle HH resigned from SWAPO and launched the Rally for Democracy and Progress. We were “alienated” and “purged” because of family ties and labelled “hibernators”. It suffice to say though we differed in political perspectives, we stood together as family. As the first Permanent Secretary to be interviewed in the Public Service in 1998, I was almost denied what I deserved because of my close relationship with Uncle HH.
I will conclude my tribute with a quote from Leo Buscaglia which states:
“I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.”
May your soul rest in eternal peace. Hamba Kahle Uncle HH!
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015