Like the rest of the nation, I received the news of the untimely passing of our former Vice President with utter sadness. In honouring his rich legacy, I thought it befitting to pen a special tribute to a man held in the highest esteem by every soul he touched.
He was a consummate rare breed whose humble and caring nature was equal to none.
The late Comrade Nickey Iyambo was an integral part of the Katutura boys. He was one of us from Ovambo 10 location house number 7; ours was 35. I have known him since 1962. Throughout his illustrious life, he has served as a role model for the young people of that location and across the nation.
We looked up to him as the first postmaster in Katutura. We looked up to him as the first boy from Ovambo 10 to go to Tanganyika, who in turn became one of the first medical doctors from our location. In that role, he served PLAN fighters in exile at the front with distinction and graceful care.
He was the first Comrade from our location to return under the tutelage of our now incumbent Head of State, Hage Geingob, to prepare the election process in 1989. In an independent and free Namibia, he became the first Minister of Health and went on to serve the nation in six cabinet portfolios, spanning the period 1990 and 2015.
He later became the first Minister of Veterans Affairs as well as the first incumbent of the title “Vice President of the Republic of Namibia”. Indeed, the late Comrade Nickey Iyambo’s life was once characterized by firsts. Despite so many firsts, he never lost touch with his humble beginnings. He was ever in touch with his grassroots as many have attested to throughout his long and distinguished career.
“Dr Nickey”, as I fondly called him, was a father figure to everybody who came into contact with him; he was firm and consistent. He was a loving and caring person who believed in a brighter tomorrow for all his fellow countrymen and comrades, hence his undivided compassion and devotion to imparting knowledge and skills across a wide spectrum of issues that mattered in life.
At this juncture, I particularly wish to register my deepest sympathy and solidarity to the Iyambo, Thomas, Nakatana and Itewa families during this most difficult and distressing time. Take solace in the knowledge that Dr Nickey completed his historical mission as entrusted to him by the late Tate Sageus Thomas, by the broader SWAPO movement and by the historical realities of our great country, Namibia.
We remain grateful for the sterling leadership he has unwittingly instilled in us Katutura boys. Without doubt, we will join other patriots in keeping his rich legacy alive.
Go well our soft speaking giant; when in your company, we all felt that we mattered. Dr. Nickey, as I fondly wish to continue remember you, “meu camarada”, you have indeed fought a good and exemplary fight and, you have enviably completed that race – we must, “meu camarada”, now continue that race, sadly without your unflinching guidance.
May his soul rest in perfect peace.
The author is currently Namibia’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China