The tarnish of Sam Nujoma’s name

12 April 2019
Author   Ismael Kambonde
Once considered a hero of the country, our Founding President seems now to be a scapegoat in many people’s minds.  But not me.  I have read history and I know what this great man has done.  But, why is this negativity happening?
Back my childhood years, the name “Sam” was received with so much praise, respect and admiration.  However, in recent times it seems to be associated with all sorts of negative labelling such as: “corruption”, “government waste”, “benefits for comrades only” or “intolerant leader”, etc.  Who would have predicted this to happen to the Founding Father? 
I think that much of the negativity came out with the Lazarus Kandara conspiracy from years ago.  That entire matter concerned the missing N$30 million from the Social Security Agency invested with the now defunct Avid Investment Company.  Even I heard the strange rumors that the great man had something to do with the disappearance of the money and because Lazarus spoke about “exposing the rest of the people that were involved”, this resulted in his assassination. There is not a shred of evidence behind such a wild rumor, and yet, these things were being said.
In each of the huge money scandals that have hit the papers over the years, Ruling Party ‘friends’ and ‘connected’ people are behind it all.  Corruption, insider trading, tenderprenuers and that whole culture took root at independence.  The fact that people in power feel entitled to the riches of the country, has been linked to the Founding Father’s time in office. 
Recently, local newspapers have headlines screaming about the government spending N$43 million on upgrading the Founding Father’s private house. It’s really a shame to have such things being said about him; it seems so unfair to me and personally, I can never believe that he actually, with his own hand, approved any kind of corrupt or money-making scheme.
Still, I cannot understand why the Founding Father is not stepping up to clear his name and make sure his legacy is undamaged. The nation is angry right now and people are suffering financially.  They don’t have jobs, schools are under-funded, they live in shacks, medical care is poor, crime is high and the rich people seem to be getting richer.  This anger is there and some are easily blaming the Founding Father and that is unfair.
I am not against the idea of the government spending money to look after retired elected leaders and in particular, the Founding Father.  But, in a terrible economic depression, the amounts spent have to be re-considered carefully.
It’s easy for our government to spend millions on people that don’t need help but it seems difficult for them to take care of the basic needs of those who voted them into power. 
I don’t believe the Founding Father personally and directly asked for the government to spend such an amount to upgrade his house.  Much of what is done in his name, is done by other people desperate to show themselves as the biggest ‘Nujoma supporter’.  I think that the government regulations allowing benefits for retired presidents should be held accountable and not the Founding President personally. 
When the founding president makes great statements in public about social issues and cautions the nation about the bad things that we are doing to each other (like the murder of women by their husbands and boyfriends), why don’t people report more about that?  But if something bad about him comes up then there is news and street talk everywhere about it.  This is not right.
More time needs to be spent teaching younger people about the history of the country and the heroic and irreplaceable role of Dr Sam Nujoma.  While many were content to live under the boot of South African and Namibian whites, the Founding Father rallied the liberation movement and the whole world.  Along with hundreds of other leaders and heroes working inside Namibia and those in exile, he liberated this country.  This fact must never be forgotten.
At the same time, some of those who did fight for our liberation (and their children and friends) must get back to where they were in those days and put the needs of the country above their own personal needs.  Too many of them are participating in schemes to earn money at the expense of everyone else.  But, that negative backlash should not be focused on the Founding Father.
I don’t think any of those rumors about Nujoma are true.  I believe in our Founding Father and always will.  My aunt talked a lot about the hard times they faced in exile but because they had a good leader who never gave up or abandoned his people, Namibia came to be.  This clean legacy deserves to live on forever. 


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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