Windhoek — Jubilant fans some of them overcome with tears of joy thronged Hosea Kutako International Airport to accord a hero's welcome to Johanna "Nunu" Benson, who won the historic gold medal for Namibia at the 2012 London Paralympics.
People from all walks of life welcomed the Walvis Bay sprint sensation who rewrote Namibia's history books when she crashed a strong field of acclaimed sprinters to claim a gold medal in the 200 metres T 37 sprint - in the process winning Namibia's first-ever gold medal at the global showpiece.
She had also earlier clinched a silver medal in the 100 metres T37 finals a few days earlier - bringing Namibia's total medal haul to two with the gold medal being the icing on the cake.
Among the well-wishers was the Sidadi Cultural Group clad in their green and white Victorian attire.
The Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Kazenambo Kazenambo, congratulated the Namibian team and added that her breathtaking victory was not only their moment of pride, but also that of the Namibian delegation to the United Kingdom, as well as the entire nation.
The outspoken lawmaker minced no words as he expressed concern over what he termed ambush marketing, in reference to dozens of corporate companies who shamelessly squeezed themselves onto the scene by placing congratulatory messages on banners carrying their logos in the reception hall and surroundings without prior consultation.
"It's not a crime to join the bandwagon and it's also not a crime to join the celebrations, but it's dishonesty to gatecrash the party without making a valuable contribution. We would like to appeal to the corporate world to become part of the mission and make a financial and moral investment in the plight of our athletes," charged the firebrand minister.
Kazenambo assured those in attendance that the line ministry has something up its sleeves in terms of remuneration, but stopped short of disclosing any figures, only disclosing that the Namibian Head of State, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, will make an announcement in that regard at a special press conference at State House later this morning.
Mukwaita Shanyengana, who represented President Pohamba at the welcoming reception, confirmed that the President would meet the gold medalist at State House this morning.
Tears of joy flowed freely down the cheeks of Adelaide Benson, when she escorted her 22-year-old daughter from the cabin of the South African Airways aircraft that landed slightly after 15h00.
British High Commissioner to Namibia, Marianne Young, whose country hosted the Paralympics, said: "Johanna, you have become an overnight sensation amongst Namibians from all walks of life - and an inspiration to both young and old - well done. I also want to congratulate all the Namibian Olympians - from across all categories - who took part in what I can proudly call the greatest ever Olympic show on earth (and I am quoting from your newspapers).
"You all experienced the agony and ecstasy of this unique international sporting event. Personal records were broken and Namibian sporting history was also made."
"I also want to thank the coaches and trainers for all your hard work in supporting the athletes and accompanying them to London. There should be medals for you as well. Congratulations to all of you, you make Namibians proud," said the British High Commissioner.
Damara Chief and MP, Justus Garoeb, was among dozens of high-profile well-wishers who included Erongo Regional Governor Cleophas Mutjavikua, NFA President John Muinjo, Commissioner Doc Naobeb, NNOC Secretary-General Abner Xoagub, British High Commissioner Marianne Young and Nampower General Manager Monica Nashandi. Nashandi, a former Namibian High Commissioner to Britain said when Nampower sponsored the Namibian team to the tune of N$700 000 for their participation in the 2012 London Paralympics, the company did so with the strong conviction that once athletes are given the opportunity to excel - they will do well and bring honour to their country. She added they have indeed been vindicated.
The deputy sports minister Pohamba Shifeta, who accompanied the team to the UK, urged the private sector to assist the Namibian government in its efforts to develop talented athletes.
"If you consider the small number of our athletes, five to be precise, Namibia did extremely well because there were countries with more than 100 athletes who did not manage to lay their hands on medals - never mind colour," Shifeta said proudly.