I fully concur with the words expressed by H.E. Dr Hage Geingob when he said “It is a proud moment for Namibians when one of the best in their fold is elevated by the sister people of South Africa to the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo, Gold”
I am indeed truly delighted that H.E. Dr Sam Nujoma has been bestowed with the Supreme Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo which is in gold, especially in the year of the commemoration of the forty anniversary of Cassinga Massacre. For this reason, I extend my heartfelt thanks to His Excellency Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and his entire government as well as the leadership of the African National Congress, for bestowing this order upon our Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation twenty four years after the country participated for the for time in a democratic process.
Now H.E. Dr Nujoma is walking in the footsteps of distinguished recipients of this Order such as Olof Palme, Kenneth Kaunda, Mahatma Gandhi, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sir Seretse Khama, Modibo Keita, Fidel Castro Ruz, Eduardo Mondlane, Agostinho Neto, General Hashim Mbita and many others including our compatriot, the late Comrade Andimba Toivo ya Toivo.
These are revolutionary leaders who have provided leadership and made outstanding contributions in our common struggle for freedom and decolonization, national independence, economic development and social justice.
I am certain that all patriotic Namibians are most grateful for this distinct honour bestowed upon our first President and Founding Father of the Nation who accepted it with humility on behalf of all the Namibian people and of the SWAPO Party which he was honoured to lead during the protracted period of our armed struggle and after the attainment of our freedom and genuine independence on the 21st March 1990.
Indeed, H.E. Dr Nujoma went to South Africa to receive such honour as a servant of the countless number of our people who dared to rise up against a social system of oppression and repression of our people.
He also went there to represent progressive people across the globe that joined with us in our common and just cause to fight against an inhuman system of apartheid rightly considered a crime against humanity.
It is no secret that from the beginning, SWAPO has always considered the struggle of the Namibian people as part of the broader struggle of the oppressed people of the world against injustices and colonial oppression.
For this reason, throughout the years of our liberation struggle, SWAPO joined hands with other progressive forces including our sister National Liberation Movements such as the African National Congress with whom we have forged bonds of brotherhood and comradeship which are cemented in blood when we shared trenches on the battle field.
In this regard, no one described these bonds of brotherhood and comradeship more aptly than the late Comrade Oliver Tambo when he said in 1983 in a conference of Solidarity with Namibia “…I should like to address myself to you, Comrade President Sam Nujoma, to the militants of SWAPO who are here today….You have sacrificed lives already to defeat the enemy – the exploiter and oppressor of the people of South Africa.
You have made great inroads; you have corroded the apartheid power structure in Namibia, which within South Africa itself, remains relatively unshaken.”
The late Comrade Oliver Tambo further said “We admire your gallantry, your courage, your efficiency, your capability on the battlefield.
By your actions you have forged bonds of unity between yourselves and us, the Namibian people and the people of South Africa – bonds of brotherhood and comradeship, forged in blood, and for that reason indissoluble.”
That said, in my view, the Order was overdue as the friendship between H.E. Dr Nujoma and the late O.R. Tambo started way back in the fifties, when the law firm established by the Late Comrade President Nelson Mandela, to which the Late Comrade Tambo joined in 1952, came to H.E. Dr Nujoma’s rescue to represent him after one of the numerous arrests and detentions by the white minority regime of apartheid.
Following the State of Emergency in South Africa, after the Sharpeville massacre on 21 March 1960, the apartheid regime went on to ban the National Liberation Movements of the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress, on 8 April 1960.
The Late Comrade Tambo was appointed to head the ANC in exile by the party’s President, Chief Albert Luthuli. It was on that occasion that the two met and have since become comrade-in-arms and brothers who spent close to thirty years in the crucible of the struggle.
Indeed, in 1960 the late Comrade O.R. Tambo had chartered a plane to then Bechaunaland together with Ronald Segal, Editor of the Magazine Africa South, and they came on to Dar-es-Salaam and found H.E. Dr Nujoma there.
They then flew on to London while Dr Nujoma went to Khartoum on his way to Ghana, Liberia and the USA to petition the United Nations to grant us the right to self-determination. Thus, these are truly comrades in arms.
To paraphrase the late President Mandela, O.R. Tambo was a great giant who strode the globe like a colossus. He had a mind whose thoughts have opened the doors to our liberty and a heart whose dreams gave hope to the despised. He also had a gentle voice whose measured words of reason shook the thrones of tyrants. His very being embodied love, an idea, a hope, an aspiration, a vision. He set himself a task which only the brave would dare.
I am sure that because of the badge, the medallion, a lapel rosette and a carved wooden ceremonial staff which H.E. Dr Nujoma has received, symbolizing solidarity and support as well as a commitment to stand by the recipient in return, H.E. Dr Nujoma and the entire Nation, we will not fail to live up to the ideals which this order encapsulates.
Indeed, the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo is awarded in three categories to eminent foreign nationals for friendship shown to South Africa. It is therefore concerned primarily with matters of peace, cooperation, international solidarity and support and is integral to the execution of South Africa’s international and multilateral relations.
In the design of the main badge of this Order, the enveloping and watchful eye of the majola symbolises the active expression of solidarity and support for South Africa.
In African mythology, the majola (mole snake) visits babies in a spirit of benevolence. The snake comes as a friend and protector to prepare the baby for a successful and safe adult life.
The mole snake can be aggressive and can give painful bites but is non-venomous. The majola’s visitation is seen as an active expression of solidarity and support, encouraging long-term success of the young and, by extension, the human race.
In the centre is a tomoye of four sections, inspired by the universal ying and yang that speak of a meeting point for diverse spiritual energies. This is enclosed by north and south pointers representing the relationship between countries of the north and countries of the south.
The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo comprises four elements:
a neck badge (a gold, silver or bronze medallion on a neck band);
a miniature (a miniature gold, silver or bronze medallion for wearing as a brooch or on the breast pocket);
a lapel rosette (also in gold, silver or bronze);
and a wooden ceremonial staff incorporating an entwined mole snake.
The stick, carved out of dark, indigenous wood, symbolises appreciation for the support and solidarity shown, and also a commitment to support and stand by the recipient in return.
The Supreme Companion of OR Tambo in gold is awarded to those who have actively promoted the interests and aspirations of South Africa through excellent cooperation and active expression of solidarity and support. No one in Namibia deserve such honour than H.E. Dr Nujoma and the Late Comrade Andimba Toivo ya Toivo.
Once again, Congratulations to our Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation, H.E. Dr Sam Nujoma! This is indeed a proud moment for the entire nation!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper but solely reflect my personal views as a citizen.