CURRENT and former prime ministers Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Nahas Angula on Monday paid tribute to the late Swapo stalwart Nickey Iyambo, who died on Sunday on the eve of his 83rd birthday.
In an interview with Nampa, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila described Iyambo as a devoted public servant both before and after Namibia gained its independence, and said growing up, she knew about Dr Nickey Iyambo.
"I used to hear about him. He used to be a medical doctor, and we knew as children growing up in the Swapo settlements that when you have an illness that could not be treated at the clinic, you were referred to a larger medical centre where Dr Iyambo was a senior official," the prime minister recalled.
She said they became more familiar with each other after independence when Iyambo served in various portfolios as health minister; regional, local government and housing minister; veterans affairs minister; and the first vice president.
Iyambo was courteous, kind-hearted and soft-spoken, but also focused and determined when he set out to achieve a goal. He also had effective negotiation skills, she noted.
"He leaves behind a legacy of hard work and commitment, humility and service to the people, and these are characteristics that are not very common in people," Kuugongelwa-Amadhila added.
Angula shared similar sentiments, stating that the veteran freedom fighter was a pioneer who went into exile to mobilise the international community in the fight against the former apartheid regime.
After Iyambo returned from Finland, where he studied political science and medicine, he was in charge of the military hospital in Lubango, Angola. At independence, he returned to Namibia to form part of founding president Sam Nujoma's Cabinet team, Angula explained.
"We should celebrate his life as a veteran freedom fighter, and as one of the formers of the Namibian state as we continue where he left off, especially the young people," he said.
Angula added that Iyambo leaves behind a legacy of hard work, as well as an understanding of needs, and this needs to be carried over to the next generation to develop Namibia further.
Unam professor, Elizabeth Amukugo, told The Namibian this week that Iyambo was an empathetic person who cared deeply for his family.
She described Iyambo as "a man of extraordinary wisdom", who "in spite of being a great thinker, (..) was more humble, respectful, accommodative and compassionate than most".
"During my parliamentary years, I saw him in action not only as the great thinker, but also a unifier. When tempers ran high, he would sit quietly and attentively. And when everybody was done talking, he would raise his hand and provide a solution which was acceptable to all," she said. - Nampa with additional reporting by The Namibian