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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

SWAPO Leads Namibia

The history of my country is shrouded in the distant past. The few published chronicles that do exist are either written by white men or are based on research conducted by white men. The young men and women of my people, who like young people in free societies should have undertaken the pioneering efforts of narrating the story of our past, have been denied the opportunity. They did not have the schools or the training to equip them. Those fortunate few, and they were only a fraction of a per cent, who did manage to acquire some education have been obliged to occupy themselves with the primary business of survival. Not for them is the luxury of the laboratory or the virgin fields of social research.

Much of what the white man has written is an echo of what has come down to us generation after generation by word of mouth. Close to a thousand years ago the Berg Damara (a Negroid people whose language is Nama) were known to Namibians. In the twelfth century tribes of 'Bushmen' wandered freely across the lands, hunted the abundant game, imprinted their expectations and beliefs in marvellous rock paintings and made a niche for themselves in Namibian history. At about the same time the Khoi-khoi (or Hottentots) moved towards the coastal regions and made Namibia their home. Then from the northern lakes came the Ovambos, with their herds of cattle and their knowledge of agriculture and iron smelting, and settled in the northern parts. (Much later the Whites arbitrarily cut a boundary line across the land occupied by the Ovambos with the result that large numbers suddenly found themselves in a 'foreign' country, Angola). The Ovambo were followed, according to white historians, by the Herero who settled further south (though the indigenous story says that both the Ovambos and Hereros came together). The late venerable Chief Hosea Kutako, freedom fighter, patriot and elder statesman, told this writer that both the Ovambo and Hereros were grandchildren of Nangombi. Over the years Namibia came to be inhabited by an even richer variety of peoples, with unrelated backgrounds and differing tongues: Damaras, Basters, Okavango, Caprivians, Kaokvelders, Coloureds, and Tswanas. Although there was sporadic fighting and strife among some of these peoples, on the whole they had been living in harmony.

The first white man to set foot on Namibian soil was Bartholomew Dias who landed in 1847 in the bay he called Angra Pequena (now called Luderitz, but which is known to our people as Okakovemia). At about the same time another Portuguese navigator, Diogo Cam, set up a cross at the place, which since came to be known as Cape Cross. But they were merely passing by. Then, 274 years later, in 1760, one Jacobus Coetzee came from the Cape, had a look around, and went back and reported on the large herds of cattle owned by the Nama and Herero people. Henceforth white people began to cast their covetous eyes upon our country and its resources. Here can be traced the roots of South Africa's imperialist design. From here onwards there was constant pressure on the Cape and British government to annex Namibia. Hard on the heels of Coetzee came Hendrik Hop, who drew a map of the Orange River. In the early 1790s, Van Reenen and Brandt arrived at Okahandja, the Herero capital. They found copper in the Swakop River and thought it was gold. During this same decade Dutch and British navigators proclaimed Walvis Bay a possession of their respective governments. But neither government backed their claims.

In 1802 the London Missionary Society established a mission station at Warmbad. In 1840 the Rhenish Mission from Germany set up stations in Namaland and Damaraland. Whites from South Africa settled permanently in Namibia between 1875 and 1914.

In the mid-nineteenth century rich guano deposits were discovered on the islands off the Namibian coast and in 1861, which were annexed by the Cape government. In 1878 the British acquired Walvis Bay and about 400 miles of the territory adjoining it.

This was the period of the Scramble for Africa. White men in far-away Europe sat around conference tables, divided, carved and distributed the African continent among themselves. They behaved with the nonchalance of banquet guests partaking of portions of tasty meats. The viewpoints of the indigenous people, their livelihood, their ways and customs, their very lives did not enter into their deliberations. Their eyes could only see the extension of their own countries to foreign continents and the amassing of riches. Thus it was that in 1884 a German warship arrived at Angra Pequena and proclaimed a protectorate over Namibia. The ostensible reason for this move was to secure the interests of Adolf Luderitz, a German citizen, who had set up a trading station at Angra Pequena two years previously. The Deutsche Kolonial Gesellschaft administered the territory until 1892, when it was formally taken over by the German government. During this period the 'protection' was extended over the whole of Namibia, including Walvis Bay.

The behaviour of the whites in Namibia followed the familiar pattern of colonisation - first there were journeys of exploration; then came the missionaries; these were followed by traders; and finally came the soldiers with guns, bringing with them permanent settlers.

From the beginning white encroachment was fiercely resisted by the people. In 1869 a party of whites from the Transvaal under Hendrik van Zyl explored the area around Ghanzi. The indigenous people immediately smelt danger and Hereros and Namas united to resist. Van Zyl was killed and the rest of the part forced to flee back to the Transvaal.

The 30 years of German rule witnessed the same determination of the indigenous people to resist white domination. The Witboois (Bondelswarts) were the first to revolt. They were only subjugated in 1894. The Hereros and Namas fought to preserve their system of communal land ownership against private ownership imposed by the Germans. This war lasted from 1904 to 1908. The Namas fought 295 battles and the Hereros 88 battles against the Germans. Over 2 000 Germans lost their lives. In the end the superior weapons triumphed. In the course of these battles the indigenous population was decimated. The Namas were reduced from 20 000 to 15 000, while of the 100 000 Hereros only 20 000 remained. The Ovambo Chief Nehale, hearing that the Germans had crossed the southern boundaries of Ovamboland, sent his army to go and push them back. He fought them at Namupuni. Later the brave Chief Mandumne, who resisted the Portuguese, fought the South African forces between 1916 and 1917.

Elsewhere on the continent other white men inflicted similar and often worse suffering upon the black people. And the world looked on, unconcerned.

It is the vastness of the land and the riches in its soil that brought the white man to Namibia. It is out of this greed that he obstinately refused to surrender the country to the people. The staggering 318 877 square miles that make up the surface of Namibia equal three-quarters of the area of South Africa. Namibia shares common boundaries with a number of countries. Its border with South Africa runs for 480 miles, with Botswana for 800 miles, with Zambia 150 miles, and with Angola 700 miles.

The soil of our country has yielded rich deposits of diamonds, lead, copper, zinc, tin, beryl, bismuth, manganese, phosphates, salt, marble and limestone. For years these have been mined and worked with the sweat of the labour of black people, but the product of our toil only helped to make the white man richer. Our people have continued to languish in poverty and illiteracy.

The First World War came and white men in distant Europe began to maim and kill one another. Our country too was dragged into this conflict. We had no say in the matter. Namibia was then German South West Africa. Germany was the principal belligerent power. So we, too, became involved in the war. Our nearest enemy country was South Africa and in 1915 soldiers from there marched in, fought and conquered our country. The war ended in 1918. The League of Nations was set up and in accordance with some complex calculations undertaken by the 'wise' statesmen who had gathered at Versailles we were declared a 'C Mandate' and handed over to South Africa, to 'promote to the utmost the material, moral and social well being of the indigenous people'. We were not given away altogether as South Africa's property. German South West Africa disappeared and we were baptised South West Africa.

This only meant a change of masters, and we had to adapt ourselves to the ways and dictates of our new rulers. Save for the formality of receiving an annual report and the occasional investigation of a commission the League of Nations paid scant regard to our plight. In the course of one of these rare occasions when we were remembered the Mandates Commission of the League questioned the policy of segregating Africans and confining them to reserves, and also remarked on the 'apparent assumption by the white population that Natives exist chiefly for the purpose of labouring for the whites'.

The new masters had arrived with new ways. Turning a blind eye to the poverty and suffering of human beings, one of the first things the new rulers sought to do was to teach us to give a new value to dogs. They imposed a dog tax. Our people could not quite grasp the import of this innovation. Besides, they were too poor to pay. But the masters would have their tax and they began to harass, coerce and force the people to pay. So the Bondelswarts, the very ones who were the first to rise against German oppression, once again led the path to resistance against the new persecutors. Mustering whatever weapons they could 600 warriors of the tribe, together with their women and children, rose in revolt. The South African forces reacted swiftly and viciously. Not satisfied with mowing down the people with machine guns, Prime Minister General Jan Smuts (world statesman and one of the founding fathers of the League of Nations) sent in aeroplanes to bomb the 'rebels' camp. Over 100 warriors and several children were killed. The people's resistance was once again subdued. There were protests and voices of disapproval at this callous massacre. The League referred to it mildly as the 'Bondelswarts affair' but refused to condemn South Africa. Soon the plight of our people vanished into the recesses of the world's memory.

The years rolled by and we became a forgotten people, except by our 'guardians', who set out on a scheme to propagate 'civilised' values and ways among us. Thus, for instance, by 1938 they had succeeded in establishing a government school for the African people with an enrolment of 93 pupils. In addition the missionaries ran 75 schools with 4 512 pupils. The attitude of the South African government towards education was stated by the Administrator of South West Africa in 1926, who declared that the aim was 'to develop the Native on his own lines, that is in his own language, with his own habits and mode of living in so far as these are not in conflict with the great general principles on which civilisation rests. Any attempt to force him to abandon his native customs and to give him instead the aspirations and outlook of life of the Europeans is to be deprecated…The method of achieving this aim is to help him develop step by step from his present raw Native state. Any desire to show early results by making him skip a number of rungs in the ladder of progress is unsound and bound to have disastrous results in the end.' During 1938 and 1939 the government spent £134 529 for the education of the children of 30 000 whites and the magnanimous sum of £17 000 on children of 300 000 blacks!

Of the total land surface of over 82 million hectares, 17 499 577 hectares were given to the blacks and 25 614 210 hectares to white farmers. The remainder of the 82 million hectares also belonged to the whites in the form of urban areas, game reserves and unalienated Crown lands. This was the position in 1937. By 1962 the area of land occupied by blacks had increased to 21 964 178 hectares.

From the outset, blacks were excluded from government and administration. At first the country was ruled by an Administrator, assisted by an advisory council of six - all whites - one of whom had to be an expert on matters concerning the blacks. Then in 1926 a Legislative Assembly, Executive Committee and Advisory Council were established - again all were whites. The Legislative Assembly was, however, not empowered to legislate for the blacks. 'Native Affairs' were the concern of the Administrator, who ruled by proclamation. Naturally the most pernicious of South Africa's racial laws, including passes, and influx control were proclaimed.

In 1939 the Second World War broke out. The South African government appealed to the people of Namibia to join the war effort and to help crush the monster of Nazism. Lofty promises were made to us, including the return of the land to the indigenous people. In 1941 Chief Hosea Kutako and his councillors undertook a tour of the reserves to mobilise the people on the side of the Allies. Many responded with enthusiasm. I, too, was carried away and decided to make my little contribution for the defence of 'democracy' and 'freedom'. After six years the war ended and we waited with great hopes for the fulfilment of the promises. But alas! It turned out to be just another one of the white man's promises. We who volunteered were rewarded with a measly £30 and subsequently with apartheid. Our country was almost surrendered to South Africa as a gift. Our dreams and hopes were crushed. Life remained much the same as before.

From the time the South African forces conquered German South West Africa in 1915 there have been persistent attempts to incorporate the territory into South Africa. At Versailles General Smuts made a bold attempt and almost succeeded. The British supported him, but President Woodrow Wilson of the USA thwarted the scheme. Through the years the clamour for incorporation grew apace, and moves were made to take over Namibia as the fifth province of South Africa.

In 1946 General Smuts went to the first session of the United Nations in New York. Again he was confident that the new world body would, in deference to his prestige as world statesman and his authorship of the preamble of the UN Charter, reward him with the long coveted but elusive ties. Indeed, he as much as promised his countrymen that he would return from New York with South West Africa in his bag. But he had reckoned without the tremendous upsurge for freedom that had swept through the oppressed peoples of the world. Prime Minister Jawarlal Nehru's sister, Mrs Vijayalakshmi Pandit, represented newly independent India. She happily accepted the assistance and advice of the delegation of the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) who had travelled to New York to help secure world condemnation of South African racism.

The people of Namibia were prevented from sending their own delegates to New York. So Chief Hosea Kutako delegated the fighting clergyman to deputise for him. Reverend Michael Scott had recently been released after serving three months in prison for taking part in the Passive Resistance Campaign conducted by the SAIC in South Africa. The Indian Congress gave him invaluable assistance. In New York he left no stone unturned to lobby the delegates and acquaint them with the real feelings of the people of Namibia. Also present from South Africa was Dr Alfred Xuma, president of the African National Congress (ANC) who, together with the SAIC delegates, assisted Reverend Scott. Andrei Vyshinsky represented the Soviet Union. At that time there were only three independent states in Africa: Ethiopia, Liberia and Egypt.

When South Africa came up for discussion as an item on the agenda, Mrs Pandit and Mr Vyshinsky led the attack and exposed the brutality, injustice and racist practices of the South African government in Namibia. Thereafter all the pleadings of General Smuts and the assistance rendered to him by the imperialist powers were of no avail. The General Assembly rejected his attempts at incorporation and sent him home empty-handed.

The late Tshekedi Khama of what was then Bechuanaland also gave much valuable assistance to the cause of Namibian freedom. In particular, we recall with gratitude his advice and his moral and material support to Reverend Scott to facilitate the mission to the UN.

In 1948 the Nats came into power in South Africa. They had long pressed for unilateral action in the incorporation of Namibia. In 1949 they passed legislation that gave the whites of Namibia direct representation in the South African parliament. In the same year they declared Reverend Scott a prohibited immigrant in South Africa. In 1954 the affairs of the black people of Namibia were placed under the direct control of the South African Bantu Administration Department. All the evils and inhumanity of apartheid were now to be extended to Namibia. Nat Cabinet Minister Eric Louw had earlier informed the UN that South Africa would no longer submit annual reports on South West Africa. At the same time he told reporters in New York that his government was resolved to keep the control of his own country and the mandated territory of South West Africa in the hands of 'representatives of European culture' lest it falls into the hands of a 'black proletariat with strong communist backing'.

The attitude of the Nats towards the Namibian people was to be but an echo of what the South West African Administrator had said in 1926 with regard to education. The object was unmistakably to keep the black people in a state of perpetual subservience as hewers of wood and drawers of water. Meanwhile the future of Namibia became a perennial issue at the UN. Twice the International Court of Justice was solicited to rule on the technicalities of international law. But no relief was forthcoming from that direction.

In 1957 Ghana won her freedom and Kwame Nkrumah became President. A wave of excitement, pride and encouragement swept across the continent. 1960 became Africa's year as almost twenty states gained independence. Others joined in quick succession including mandated territories. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan referred to this as the 'winds of change' when he addressed the South African parliament.

After centuries of slavery and exploitation the African giant was standing up to take its rightful place alongside the free people of the world. The names of Kwame Nkrumah, Ben Bella, Patrice Lumumba, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Jomo Kenyatta became household words and were hailed in the same way as those of Jawarlal Nehru, Ahmed Sukarno, Mao Tse Tung, Fidel Castro and Martin Luther King were hailed by the peoples of Asia and Latin America and by black Americans.

Within a short time the African states combined to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and inevitably they joined together with the countries of Asia to form the Afro-Asian bloc at the UN and other world bodies. The whole character of the UN began to change. The cause of Namibia now assumed a new importance in world affairs. The Soviet Union and the socialist countries that President Samora Machel rightly referred to as the natural allies of the oppressed people invariably supported the Afro-Asian bloc. The General Assembly and the Security Council passed stronger resolutions on Namibia. In 1966 the Assembly revoked South Africa's mandate over Namibia. Calls were made to the Security Council for more drastic measures to force South Africa to quit Namibia. Because of the machinations and obstructive tactics of imperialist powers, little came of these resolutions.

In the wake of the winds of change the people of Namibia, too, began to feel the urgent need for a political organisation to lead their struggle for freedom. On 3 August 1957 the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) was formed in Cape Town. The author was one of its founding members. Soon its message and its organisation were carried into Namibia. Another organisation, the South West Africa National Union (SWANU) also came into being. Both SWAPO and SWANU were open to all the people of Namibia, but it is doubtful whether any whites joined them. The whites have yet to produce people of the calibre of Jack Simons, Bram Fischer, Brian Bunting, Joel Carlson, Alan Paton, Dennis Goldberg, Helen Joseph, Ray Alexander and many others who have without reservation thrown in their lot with the liberation struggle in South Africa. In Namibia young men organised themselves into students social groups, which were later converted to organs of political bodies.

SWAPO's policy is to weld the people of Namibia into one nation and to pursue the struggle for freedom and independence to a victorious conclusion.

The Nat government, sensing that pressures from all sides were building up against South Africa, took measures in the hope of maintaining its stranglehold on Namibia. In 1962 the Odendaal Commission was appointed to enquire into various aspects of the lives of the Namibian people and to make recommendations for a five-year plan for the accelerated development of the black people in the reserves and urban areas. The Commission produced its report in 1964. As expected, it came forward with a diabolical plan for the imposition of Bantustans in Namibia. The policies of separate development were to be more rigidly and rapidly applied. It made no bones about the fact that the whites would remain masters over Namibia. It recommended the extension of the land area occupied by the blacks from 21 964 178 to 32 629 364 hectares. The remaining 50 million hectares were to be retained by the whites.

Hosea Kutako immediately expressed his disapproval of the report. Other Black groups and political organisations in Namibia did likewise. The Special Committee on Apartheid of the UN declared that the 'interpretation given by the Odendaal Commission to the term self determination made it meaningless.'

The South African authorities ignored the feelings and interests of the people of Namibia and in defiance of world opinion proceeded to create Bantustans. They relied on the support of discredited chiefs and other elements. The people of Namibia began to rally in greater numbers behind SWAPO and rejected the Bantustans. SWAPO intensified its activities for freedom and independence in one, undivided country.

South Africa was bent on remaining in Namibia and continued to move towards a head-on collision with the people. In order to facilitate the work of their stooges and hirelings they unleashed a campaign of repression against all who opposed them. SWAPO was singled out for victimisation. Ever since it was established in 1957, SWAPO has been striving to conduct its activities in a non-violent manner. Under increasingly difficult conditions, and in spite of harassment and provocation SWAPO continued the task of mobilising the people. The South African government increased its use of violence. We could no longer hold peaceful meetings; our members were hounded and forced to lead miserable lives. Guns were issued to chiefs and headmen and were being freely used against us. Many of our members were forced to flee and take refuge in Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania. Wholesale persecution continued and at last our patience reached breaking point. Our honour and self-respect as a people demanded that we stand up against the oppressor. SWAPO was left with no alternative but to take up arms and meet the enemy on his own terms. Our responsibility to our members and our obligation to the people made it incumbent on us to train and equip our young men to meet the situation. We dared not allow them to be constantly mauled, batoned and shot without making an effort to defend them.

In a desperate effort to preserve white supremacy in Southern Africa the Nat regime forged a close alliance with the Portuguese colonialists and the racist Rhodesian minority government. These reactionary forces combined their resources against the freedom struggle. SWAPO realised that the only way to beat this unholy alliance was by uniting and working in closest co-operation with other liberation movements in neighbouring countries. Therefore SWAPO formed a firm alliance with its sister organisations, the ANC of South Africa, the MPLA of Angola, Frelimo of Mazambique, ZAPU of Zimbabwe and PAIGC of Giunea Bissau. We know that this mighty united force is sure to triumph. Here again the states of free Africa and the socialist countries rendered every assistance. In 1965 the first trained soldiers of SWAPO began to infiltrate Namibia. Training camps, where local youth were given elementary training in guerrilla warfare, were set up under the leadership of Elias Tuhadeleni and J. Otto Nankudhu. On 26 August 1966 the South African police made a surprise attack on one such camp in Ovamboland. In the fighting that ensued, two freedom fighters were killed and one wounded. Eight men were taken into custody. Further arrests followed and eventually 37 of us were tried and sentenced in Pretoria. This was a further temporary reverse for our movement.

Soon activities started again and the youth of Namibia continued to leave the country in ever larger numbers to undergo military training. Many also received political training while yet other young men and women were trained in various academic fields. SWAPO now has a considerable fighting force and guerrilla activity has begun with renewed vigour.

In the past two years, historic developments have taken place that fill us with pride and confidence, hope and determination. SWAPO's sister organisations have had resounding victories and as this is being written the PAIGC is occupying the seat of power in Guinea-Bissau, Frelimo in Mozambique and the MPLA in Angola. It is also gratifying to learn of intensified activities in Rhodesia and the mounting success of the Zimbabwe People's Liberation army. The racist regime of Smith will crumble under the victorious forces of the Zimbabwean people, and majority rule will be achieved.

At this late hour the South African racists are still desperately engaged in attempts to thwart the freedom forces. So-called 'constitutional talks' have been initiated with the aim of creating various Bantustans. In this way South Africa is hoping to perpetuate not only its racist policies but also to maintain indirect control over the lives of the Namibian people and their country.

But it is too late. Time has run out for apartheid and racism. As in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau the freedom army of Namibia is sure to frustrate these evil designs, and lead the people to victory. SWAPO will be only too glad to participate in free elections or talks supervised by the OAU and the UN. South Africa must quit Namibia. Let the people of Namibia decided their own future. Even now we hope that the South African racists will come to their senses and quit Namibia, thereby preventing further unnecessary bloodshed and destruction, which will certainly yield a harvest of hate and bitterness.

The policy of SWAPO is clear. We believe in equality of opportunities for all men and women, irrespective of race, colour or creed. We believe the people of Namibia should have the right to full and unfettered franchise, and to live where they choose in our undivided country. Our country is big, its resources large, and our population small. We need the united effort of one Namibian nation to undertake the task of building our country for the future. The path of Bantustans is the path of disunity, division and discord. SWAPO's ideal in the building of one Namibian nation is to eliminate the conditions that give rise to and perpetuate group thinking. We realise that years of racist rule have succeeded to instil erroneous ideas in the minds of many people and a long process of re-education will be necessary to eradicate these false notions. SWAPO declares that the whites would have nothing to fear in the new Namibia. Full equality before the law is guaranteed for all people. It has never been in the past nor is it now the policy of SWAPO to drive the whites out of Namibia or to persecute them for the colour of their skin. All that is expected of them, as of all citizens, is the disavowal of racism in any form and the expression of loyalty to the new state. At the same time all will have to bear in mind that firm action will be taken against those who violate the laws of the country. Racial discrimination will be banned and will not be tolerated. Neither the whites nor any other group should expect to receive preferential treatment. The slightest indication of sabotage or obstruction to the policy of progress of the new state will be dealt with severely. In the new Namibia the State will guarantee freedom of speech, assembly and worship. Great care, however, will have to be taken to ensure that this freedom is not abused.

As to what political form the new Namibia should take, this matter is obviously to be decided by the people of Namibia and their political organisation. However, it is the writer's view that in building the new state we should take the fullest advantage of the experiences of other emancipated people and apply the lessons learnt. We should take note of the difficulties and problems they have encountered as well as their approach towards finding solutions. We must take a close look at the independent countries of Africa and Asia, as well as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and other socialist countries. Basing ourselves on this wealth of experience we must endeavour to build a society that will ensure the complete elimination of the evils of colonialism, racism, class oppression, hunger, poverty, illiteracy and disease. We must strive to build a society where there will be complete fulfilment of universal education, full employment, planned production, proper health schemes and unending opportunity for the fullest development of a healthy cultural and recreational life.

A free Namibia will be honoured to join the OAU that binds all the people of Africa into one large brotherhood. In spite of the set-backs and difficulties, the years since its foundation have proved the great need for such a body. It has made a tremendous contribution to welding and maintaining the unity and solidarity of this continent. Above all, it has been a source of inspiration and invaluable assistance to the cause of the freedom forces. In world affairs, through its co-operation with the Asian and Latin American countries, the OAU has helped to make a significant contribution to maintaining world peace. Events such as the historic Lusaka Conference of Non Aligned States in 1969 have made it clear to imperialist warmongers that the people of these three continents will not be party to any war designs. Only in peace can there be a guarantee of progress.

A free Namibia will also join the UN and take its place in the world family of nations. Although in many ways the body has not lived up to expectations, particularly of the oppressed peoples, it has nevertheless made an undeniable contribution towards lessening world tensions.

In the writer's opinion the greatest friends of a free Namibia will continue to be the people of the socialist countries, and in order to develop our country to its fullest potential we will have to enter into the closest economic, political and cultural relations with them. It will also be necessary to maintain normal, healthy diplomatic and economic relations with the countries of the West. It has been gratifying to learn that growing numbers of people in the western countries have been prepared to accept SWAPO as the mouthpiece of the people of Namibia. In view of the history of close association with South Africa, the idea of establishing relations with it will have to be decided upon by the people of Namibia. This new relationship will have to be on terms of complete equality and in consonance with our dignity and self-respect.

As this is being written, young men and women of Namibia are bravely risking and sacrificing their lives in the battle against South African racism. It must be expected that the enemy will do everything to weaken and undermine our struggle. In addition to direct confrontation they will continue to utilise elements from among our people to achieve their nefarious designs. We have to be constantly on our guard. We must build up and maintain the strongest bonds of unity among our people. There is not the least doubt that victory is in sight. How soon we shall achieve it will to a large extent depend on how united we are. There is also a great need for unity among the political organisations. On examining the aims and programmes of SWAPO and SWANU in particular it is clear that their outlook on fundamental questions is in many ways the same. We should ask ourselves whether the time has not come for them to work in close co-operation with a view to merger. The continued disunity among the forces of freedom can only be of advantage to the enemy.

The cause of our freedom enjoys the wholehearted support of people throughout the whole world. It is up to us to strike the final blows against the forces of racism and reaction and to establish a free, independent, socialist Namibia.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.