12 December 2002

Namibia: Minister Urges Swakopmund Residents to Accept Change

Minister of Health Dr Libertina Amathila on Tuesday defended the street-renaming programme at Swakopmund as she officially renamed a prominent thoroughfare after herself.

She is the second person to officially rename a street at Swakopmund since the controversial renaming started.

President Sam Nujoma renamed the main street - Kaiser Wilhelm Strasse - after himself exactly a year ago.

Amathila, who also celebrated her birthday on Tuesday, said the Town Council's decision to rename Bruecken Street after her was a welcome present.

The street runs from the jetty towards town.

"The Town Council needs to be applauded for renaming streets, although some residents have complained about it," she said.

The "street renaming battle" flared up again recently at the Council's November meeting when DTA Councillor Hans-Dieter Goethje opposed a resolution to rename a further four streets.

A week later Chairperson of the Swakopmund Ratepayers' Association, Margit D'Avignon, declined an invitation from Mayor Daniel Kamho to attend Tuesday's ceremony.

In a strongly-worded letter she also reminded him of a legal opinion "unhappy" residents obtained stating Council's decision to change street names was unlawful.

Amathila said on Tuesday it was clear that some residents still lived in the old days.

"We have a responsibility to govern in the interest of the whole nation. People cannot expect their worlds to remain the same. Changes will take place in all spheres of society. "

She said it was only when people started accepting changes that Namibians would be able to stand up and work together to effect the total emancipation of the nation.

Amathila said she did not view having a street named after her as a personal achievement, but rather as an honour for her fallen comrades in the liberation struggle.

"I accept this honour on behalf of all my friends and comrades who are not here today. I hope I will be worthy of the street named after me."

The Minister said she had close ties with Swakopmund as it was the town where she made the decision to become a doctor.

She said she was working for the father of lawyer Peter Koep in 1962, when a friend wrote to her saying she would be able to get a bursary to study medicine if she left the country.

She said Koep senior encouraged her to take that step.

Although the Council resolution indicated the street name would be Albertina Amathila, the Minister asked that the street be called 'Libertina'.

She said some people called her "Albertina", but her real name was Libertina.

Freddy Kaukungua, PRO of the Municipality, requested residents in the street who had Bruecken Street painted on their walls to change the signs.

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