Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Greetings From Namibians Through Pohamba

TANZANIA'S 51st independence anniversary was supposed to be a low key celebration after having the real lavish one last year, dubbed as the golden jubilee.

This year's celebrations were special particularly on the very day of 9th December at the National Stadium. For those who were lucky to be at the Uhuru stadium could see the gallant march of our extra active soldiers indicative of their readiness for anything. But far from that, the presence of twelve regional leaders mostly from the SADC countries was something spectacular.

It was by coincidence that their presence on a summit of peace missions in our country gave them an opportunity to witness our celebrations. Out of that President Kikwete was forced to say something at the presence of his brother presidents. Apart from introducing them to the crowd, he adroitly chose the opportunity to highlight the peace and harmony enjoyed by Tanzanians over the fifty years of our independence.

We may take this peace for granted but it should be noted that countries like DRC has never known peace since independence. Angola, Rwanda, Mozambique, all had tasted the bitter side of the war. The presence of these regional heads took me back to those liberation days when Tanzania was the hub of African liberation particularly for the Southern part of Africa.

It was not by accident when President Kikwete invited the Namibian leader, Lucas Hifikepunye Pohamba, to take the floor to greet the people. Undoubtedly, a Pan Africanist, a diehard guerrilla fighter, President Pohamba despite of those long past years, he still recalled his arrival at Dar es Salaam on that day of 9th December 1961 during the dark days of his country's history by then, South West Africa.

He came through Sumbawanga, Mpanda, Tabora to Dar es Salaam by the train! Ironically Namibia was the last country to get independence in Africa after protracted negotiations with Western countries, Boers, Cuba, Frontline countries following the decisive war of Cuito Cuanavalle in Angola. It was a nice music to our ears to hear from none other than Pohamba himself mentioning Dodoma, Kongwa where they lived and trained to liberate their country.

It is from here a group of People's Liberation Army (PLAN), Namibian liberation fighters led by John Ya Otto marched on foot up to the Northern part of Namibia, Ongulumbashi and fired the first bullet to start the war on August 26, 1966 that saw Namibia become independent on March 21, 1990.

There are so many things to remember of the two countries including that Strategic Tanga Consultative SWAPO Conference of 1970 that worked a strategic plan to liberate their country. The liberation struggle ecstasy emanating from Pohamba's short speech at the Stadium was enough to remind some of us the veterans of the old times in early years of the Tanganyika's independence when Pohamba and the retired founder of the Namibian Nation, Dr Sam Nujoma, landed for the first time in Tanganyika in December 1961.

Since then South West People's Organisation (SWAPO) veterans and other freedom fighters from other countries streamed to Dar es Salaam in their big numbers in readiness to liberate their countries. They found a home away from home in Dar es Salaam and would now like to make Dar es Salaam the Headquarters in preservation of the African heritage of the Liberation Struggle.

Dar es Salaam is as well known as Mecca for the freedom fighters involved in the liberation of Africa. The liberation war veterans from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, and South Africa with their old time host once met in Windhoek, Namibia with a common purpose of rewriting the African history of liberation struggle in a better term as African liberation heritage.

It was Chama Cha Mapinduzi(CCM) and SWAPO with the support of UNESCO offices in Dar es Salaam and Windhoek that some few years ago thought of identifying and documenting the liberation struggle in particular the Southern Africa region. Unlike the Mbita project that was charged with the responsibility of writing the liberation struggle history for those countries under SADC, but this one goes further in building museums, monuments and historic features.

It will be involved in building research centres and other academic related issues pertaining to liberation struggle. At one time the Namibian government through her High Commission in Tanzania had shown interest in refurbishing the SWAPO structures both in Dar es Salaam and Kongwa. However, the former SWAPO office in Dar es Salaam has been developed into something else but they would prefer to put a plaque as an indication that once SWAPO was housed there.

This organization, African liberation heritage programme was supposed to build a strong foundation that would enable to show the Roads to independence in Africa: the African liberation heritage. This involved the gathering of information and mobilizing resourceful persons who could provide the necessary information.

This extraordinary gathering of twelve regional leaders mainly of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) could have been described as a reunion which really was missing, probably the emerging programme dubbed as the African Liberation Heritage would bring about the genuine liberation history which is slowly fading away. In Central and Southern African countries, Kiswahili could be singled out as the liberation language.

Look at Uganda how Swahili has caught up with them after the Iddi Amin War. DRC after Mobutu, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, all speak and understand Kiswahili. And President Pohamba had in so many occasions championed the usage of Kiswahili in these countries.

Unfortunately there was no follow up from the concerned people as Pohamba was prepared to include in the Namibian University the Kiswahili language as a lesson to be taught including getting some of the lecturers of Kiswahili from Tanzania. Let us exploit all these avenues which are likely to enhance our PanAfricanism against the onslaught of globalisation.

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