Museums are places rarely visited although they are ideal places where one can always learn something with the bonus of spending an enjoyable afternoon alone, together with a friend, with family members or with your class mates. Museums offer a fascinating look into its rich and complex history, culture and people.
The Independence Memorial museum is one of the museums that are worth mentioning when it comes to Namibian history. It is a historical museum that focuses on the anti-colonial resistance and the national liberation struggle of Namibia.
The Independence Memorial Museum is located on Robert Mugabe Avenue between two buildings of the German colonial period, the Christuskirche and the colonial citadel, the Alte Feste. The museum sits on a small slope between the two structures. The unusual design surely symbolizes the modernist, post-colonial state.
The museum is flanked by two statues of Sam Nujoma and that of Genocide. The statue of the founding father which faces Windhoek sees him holding the ‘Constituency Book’. It stands on a pedestal and is on the former site of the infamous Reiterdenkmal which stood for more than 102 years. This very impressive memorial represents the country’s modern chapter of the national liberation struggle.
The Genocide Statue is a few metres away to the south of the Sam Nujoma Statue. It was erected in remembrance of ‘untold hardships and suffering’ at the hands of the Schutztruppe during the 1904-07 war. It depicts a man and woman embracing each other and the broken chains on top of a hut symbolizing their freedom.
It has a five-story triangular glass structure which features a glass-fronted elevator at its front. The first floor, titled “Colonial Repression”, commemorates early resistance leaders of Namibia and the country during the South African Apartheid period. The second floor, titled “Liberation”, commemorates the internal conflict in Namibia and the Cassinga Massacre of 1978.
The third floor, titled “Road to Independence”, details the activities of SWAPO, United Nations Security Council Resolution 435, and includes a viewing platform of the Panoramic Hall of the museum.
The building is filled with galleries of various exhibitions that depict the long history of anti-colonial resistance and the national liberation struggle, the first houses paintings of freedom fighters with visible familiar faces.
It ‘tells, records and preserves Namibia’s history’ and stands as the centre where ‘anti-colonial resistance and the national liberation struggle are told’.
You can either take an external glass-fronted elevator which offer great views of the city on the way up or use a different entrance to climb many flights of stairs.
There are walls with a collection of photographs of famous freedom fighters such Cornelius Frederiks, a leader of a guerilla group from Bethanie. Statues of Nehale Mpingana, Chief Samuel Maharero, Chief Ipumbu Tshilongo and Captain Hendrik Witbooi stand proudly. These are all brave men who took up arms against the South African colonisers and to this day their names echoed through Namibian history. These images elicit an emotional response as they document how various uprisings started during the different periods in Namibia’s history.
One of the highlights in the museum is the Chamber of Horrors, dedicated to the 1904 to 1908 genocide that saw thousands of Nama and Herero people killed by German soldiers.
It was surely a dark and painful time in the lives of many people who faced brutality from the colonisers. One can sense the pain and suffering people went through just by looking at the images and bronze etchings on the walls.
Another mural shows the horror of the Cassinga Massacre on 4 May, 1978. A camp attacked by the South African army. Hundreds of Namibians, mostly women and children, were killed by the South African army that day.
The museum opens from 09h00 to 17h00 during weekdays and during the weekend it opens at 10h00 to 17h00. The entrance is free.