I first met Andimba Toivo ya Toivo in 1984 in Lusaka, Zambia, upon his release from prison. I was privileged to be amongst the Namibians in Lusaka, who thronged to Lusaka International Airport to welcome Comrade Ya Toivo.
I have heard about Comrade Herman Toivo ya Toivo’s political activism in Namibia, with regards to the fight for the welfare of contract workers from Owamboland, and later on, for his involvement in the support of guerrillas, who launched the armed liberation struggle at Ongulumbashe in 1966, which led to his arrest and subsequent sentencing for 20 years to the notorious Robben Island prison.
The next day, with other Swapo comrades, who were based in Lusaka, we went to meet Comrade Toivo ya Toivo at the Swapo president’s home, where he was accommodated. We were introduced to him as Swapo cadres operating in Zambia and Lusaka, in particular.
We proceeded to shake hands with him and introduced ourselves.
When my turn came to introduce myself, he asked where in Namibia I was from.
I responded that I was from Onamutai village. He again asked whether I was the son of Nauyomawa Hashiyana, to which I responded in the affirmative.
His next question was, “Is your mom Melila, Namatanga or Nanguloshi?”
The three were my father’s wives. I told him who my mother was. I was perplexed and also thought that he was probably originally from our village. However, to be sure, I enquired whether he was also from Onamutai. He responded that he was a teacher there during the early 1950s, and that he knew the village well. Only in later years, I learnt that Tatekulu Ya Toivo taught at Onamutai, before I was even born.
The next day, Comrade Julius Namugongo, now deceased, and I, were sent as an advanced team to Swapo’s Nyango Refugee and Education Centre in the western province of Zambia, to prepare for the visit of Comrade Ya Toivo.
He came in the company of the SwapoPresident, Comrade Sam Nujoma
The next visit was to Luanda, Angola, where I acted as his interpreter, when he for the first time addressed the Namibian community at the Swapo Transit Camp. I was impressed by his sharp mind, intellect and his knowledge of the detail of the current stage of the liberation struggle.
For him, the long and bitter struggle would eventually come to an end.
What was required at that particular time was the intensification of the struggle on all fronts, to force the apartheid regime to relinquish its illegal occupation of Namibia. Comrade Toivo ya Toivo noted that the apartheid regime was also intensifying its repression of the Namibian people at home, and carrying out dastardly military attacks against the Frontline States, with a view to cowing them into submission.
He thus urged the Namibians to rededicate themselves to the noble cause to liberate their motherland from the yoke of oppression.
I admired Tatekulu Andimba Toivo ya Toivo.
Back home, I interacted with Tatekulu Ya Toivo more often, when I worked at the Swapo Headquarters in Windhoek. I was one of the secretaries to both the Swapo Political Bureau and the Central Committee.
During some of those meetings, Tatekulu Ya Toivo would come to me, and say the following words, “Nauyomawa Hashiyana, I do not have the document under discussion.”
I would immediately avail him a spare copy. I would then peruse his file and find that the document was there. To my surprise, I would also find that he had read the document, as he had made some comments on the sides, had underlined some important parts in the document, as well as putting some question marks. I would then return his file and inform him that the document was in the file. His response would be that he did not say that the document was not in the file, but that he could not find it. He would thus admonish me to always listen carefully to what was being said or requested. I took his advice.
Tatekulu Ya Toivo never called me by my name, but always referred to me as Nauyomawa Hashiyana, my father’s name. He was to me an icon of the liberation struggle, a hero of Namibia, and a friend to all. I will continue to cherish his friendship.
I wish to extend my sincere heartfelt condolences to Meme Vicky, the children and the entire bereaved family. May the body and soul of Tatekulu Andimba Herman Toivo ya Toivo repose in eternal peace.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015