New Era (Windhoek)

28 April 2008

Namibia: Blast Victims Remembered

Oshakati — First National Bank of Namibia (FNB) on Saturday marked the 20th comme-moration and unveiled a monument for the 1988 Oshakati bomb blast victims.

The blast claimed 30 lives at the then Barclays Bank in Oshakati.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba said the gruesome attack was part of the vicious strategy by the colonial regime to cause confusion among the people in their desperate attempt to stifle the just cause of national liberation.

He said the journey to Namibia's freedom was long and bitter. Many Namibians lost their lives both on the battlefront and in senseless attacks on innocent and defenceless civilians by the forces of the South African racist colonial regime, inside Namibia and abroad.

Despite all the brutal attacks, the people of Namibia under the banner of Swapo fought an enemy who had no regard for the laws of warfare, no regard for human rights and no regard for human dignity.

"Throughout the armed liberation struggle, the apartheid regime disregarded all international protocols and conventions regarding the conduct of warfare.

We saw this contempt of international law on numerous occasions as the apartheid troops perpetrated massacres, attacked innocent civilians, destroyed homes and crop fields and attempted - with success - to spread fear and hopelessness among our people," he said.

Pohamba explained that the people who perished that day were victims of a brutal attack aimed at derailing the march towards freedom and independence.

The attack robbed the country of many professionals such as teachers, nurses, civil servants and others who would have made enormous contributions to the social and economic development of the country.

"This monument stands as a clear statement of our resolve that we will never forget our people who lost their lives in the course of Namibia's struggle.

Their death was not in vain. Their sacrifices inspired the Namibian people to rededicate themselves to the cause of the struggle for liberation," stated the President.

He called on people to work hard in order to ensure that all people enjoy the fruits of independence in honouring the memory of those who died.

"It is for this reason that our Swapo Party Government has put policies in place to address the problem faced by our youth, women, the elderly, the workers, the orphans and vulnerable children as well as our citizens in the rural areas."

Speaking at the same occasion, Chief Executive Officer of FNB Namibia Hol-dings, Vekuii Rukoro, said the monument built in ho-nour of the bank blast victims symbolises the tena-city of the human spirit in the land of the brave, the tena-city not to close shop and run away but instead to continue spearheading projects and other needed infrastructure for the economic expansion and social progress of Osha-kati and outlying areas.

"If we can achieve that, then the supreme sacrifices of our staff and customers 20 years ago would not have been in vain," said Rukoro.

Titus Kanika Iipumbu, one of the survivors and former employee of FNB Oshakati, relived his experience of the fateful day of February 19, 1988.

Sacky Shangala, who represented orphans, said the orphans are not looking for somebody to blame for the fateful event. Though it is hard for them, they reconcile.

He condemned those who were against the building of the monument. According to him, monuments offer the opportunity for people to go and pay tribute to their loved ones.

Most of those who perished in the blast were nurses at the Oshakati State Hospital and bank employees.

The monument was built at a cost of N$100000 and FNB Namibia donated it to the Namibia Heritage Council to become a national asset.

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