HUNDREDS of Namibians who studied in Cuba during the liberation struggle flocked to Farm Etunda, home to former President Sam Nujoma, on Saturday to show their appreciation for his role in their lives.
The former students from as far as northern Namibia, the coastal towns and central regions drove to Etunda to do voluntary work at the boarding school which is under construction and the clinic on the farm some 30 kilometres south of Otavi.
Most of the former students arrived early on Saturday with hoes, machetes, shovels and rakes to clean and cut grass around the buildings constructed by the Sam Nujoma Foundation.
After its completion last year, the former President handed over the clinic to the Ministry of Health and Social Services earlier this year. It caters mainly to farmworkers who previously found it difficult to access healthcare facilities.
Just a stone's throw from the clinic is the construction site of the primary school, which Nujoma has also indicated will be handed over to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture upon completion.
The former students raised N$41 000 for these two projects.
Most of the former Cuba students are survivors of the Cassinga massacre in southern Angola.
Around 800 people died on 4 May 1978, when South African Defence Force soldiers attacked a Swapo refugee camp at Cassinga.
The surviving children were flown to the Island of Youth, the second-largest Cuban island, immediately after the attack, after an earlier request to Cuba by Nujoma.
This year marks 40 years since the attack.
"You have been our parent, teacher, mentor, guide and pillar. You taught us how to crawl, how to stand and how to walk in the jungles of Angola until we crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Cuba," Abraham Nangolo told Nujoma on Saturday.
Nangolo, who is the leader of the Namibia-Cuba Friendship Association, said Nujoma taught them how to "unite and how to fight and win".
"Today, here we are, a united family of hard working and dedicated cadres ready to fulfil any task assigned to us," he said to thunderous applause and revolutionary songs.
Some of the songs sang in Oshiwambo included the lyrics 'Olye ngoka ite kutila, olye ngo ta dhini okuhokolola iilonga yoye', which roughly translated in English, means, "Who is that that has no fear? Who dares to undermine your life's work?".
"We are saying we love you, we cherish you, we admire you and above all, we will respect you until our last day on earth," Nangolo said while handing over the cheque.
Nujoma was moved to tears at the gesture.
In his short speech, he thanked the group and said he would like to see all Namibian children, with or without money, attending school.
"All Namibians with or without money should have access to medical facilities," he added.
After the completion of the formal event, the group of former students were treated to lunch. Nujoma also invited them to attend his birthday party at Etunda village in the Omusati region in May. Nujoma was born on 12 May 1928.
Immediately after the country's independence in 1990, Namibians who studied in Cuba formed the Namibia-Cuba Friendship Association.
Currently, the association has 1 400 members.