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      Jacuma's Avatar
      Jacuma is offline Forward To PanAfricanism

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      Lightbulb Interview With Comrade Sam Nujoma 1st President Of Namibia


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!


      Baffour
      You are the first of your parents' 11 children. How did that prepare you for the leadership role you now play?

      Nujoma
      Of course you learn a lot from your boyhood. And I certainly did. As I say in my book, as the eldest son, I had to look after my brothers and sisters, even carrying the little ones on my back. In our tradition, the mother worked on the land cultivating millet and other crops, together with the father. I, as the first-born, had to look after the cattle and goats, separating the calves from their mothers to prevent them from sucking too much milk from the cows before my father and I had had time to milk them to provide milk for the family. You can imagine how tough the work was, especially having to do it with a baby on my back, sometimes also holding another by the hand. I remember other boys used to laugh at me, saying: "Look at this one. Why is he carrying a baby on his back like a girl?" But I had to do it as the first-born. My father made sure that I was properly trained and prepared both mentally and physically. I had to go through all the traditional rituals, with the clear purpose that as a man I would be able to understand initiatives and succeed in the most difficult missions. My father kept repeating to me that I had to be responsible and be able to look after myself, even if he was not there to take care of me. My mother tells me how one day she heard me sing, very loudly near our homestead, a song, which looking back was quite subversive in those days. I had learned it from the other boys when we were out there in the fields looking after cattle. It ran like this: "I'm going to make a problem with the whites." My mother threatened me with her belt to make me stop singing it as it was a taboo for a child to sing such a song, and so loudly. I had learned the word "problem" somehow, but I didn't really know what it meant. Now I know. So, yes, the responsibilities I carried as the first of 11 children have been a help to me today. It was a good training college for the leadership role I now play.

      Baffour
      As you grew older, how did "the problem" resolve itself? You had learned the word "problem" somehow as a boy, tell me how did you and the others deal with "the problem".

      Nujoma
      As a youth, as I say in my book, I gained experience of the world through education, work and travel. Through those experiences, learned that predation also existed in the racism, oppression and injustice of the colonial and apartheid governments. That these unwanted, iniquitous regimes were predators feeding cruelly on the lives of the African people and on the riches of their land. And we had to find a way of stopping it. That was "the problem" we were going to make with the whites who were oppressing us. Of course, we were encouraged by the other African countries that achieved independence before us. Ghana was the first, followed by the others like Nigeria in the 1960s. The 60s were considered by us who were still under the shackles of colonialism as the year of African liberation, because many African countries achieved their independence in that era. So we were sure that whatever the racist South African regime was doing here in Namibia, we were going to achieve our independence by any means necessary, and remember the racist regime was the most militarily powerful state on the African continent. But we analysed the situation and concluded that the imperialists were here to have a good life. So we made sure that they did not have a good life. We planted bombs everywhere, we attacked them by surprise and made life so hard for them that they had to give up in the end. For example, at a conference in Lusaka, Zambia, on the situation in Zimbabwe, more than a decade after Ian Smith had declared UDI [Unilateral Declaration of Independence], Nigeria nationalised the Shell oil company and threatened to do so to other British properties there. So Margaret Thatcher was forced to threaten Ian Smith that if he did not give in, Britain would come and sort him out in Rhodesia. So Ian Smith gave in, and Lord Soames was sent to prepare Zimbabwe for independence, which was achieved in 1980. The unity of the African people compelled the imperialists to have no other alternative. The racist South African regime, however, held on to Namibia and tried to establish a puppet regime here, the so-called Government of National Unity. But we intensified the armed struggle, with the support of the Nigerian government. In fact, Nigeria played a very vital role in Angola. In Addis Ababa when the OAU was divided 22 to 22, the late General Murtala Mohammed used Nigeria's oil weight to convince the other African countries that they were wrong to support Angola's puppet government in exile headed by Holden Roberto who was supported by Mobutu. Meanwhile, the armed struggle in Angola was intensified. The Angolans later invited the Cubans, and together with the Cuban and our SWAPO guerrillas, we defeated the racist South African regime at the battle of Cuito Caunavale in Angola. Our joint armed forces (the Angolan army, SWAPO and the Cubans) completely wiped out the South African air force and the presidential regiment that the racists threw into that battle.

      Baffour
      Your middle name, Shafiishuna, what does it mean?

      Nujoma
      That is my combat name. Shafiishuna means Lightening. Eshuna means a terrible thing like lightening. During the struggle, each of our guerrillas had a combat name.

      Baffour
      So why did you choose that name, Shafiishuna?

      Nujoma
      Because it was in my family, on my father's side.

      Baffour
      In your autobiography, Where Others Wavered, you talk about how the European missionaries came, befriended the chiefs, asked for land, carried out surveillance and exploration of the land, sent back information to Europe, and soon a flood of military reinforcements came and whole territories that offered material and strategic value to the Europeans were claimed by them. In your view, were the missionaries a force for good or evil?

      Nujoma
      The missionaries were the foot soldiers of imperialism. They came with the Bible and ended up taking our land. They didn't respect the Bible. In Okahandja, about 70 km from Windhoek, the missionaries killed the Hereros in the church, a section of our population. You know the system of "let us close our eyes and pray", and the German soldiers were hiding behind the so-called altar and they just came and bayoneted the people.

      Baffour
      You also say in the book that "the purpose of colonial conquest of the African continent by the Western imperial powers was to acquire wealth, and the way to acquire wealth was, of course, to acquire land. For the indigenous people of Namibia, as elsewhere on the continent, the result of what has been described as the scramble for Africa by England, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain, was drastic and tragic". So, why has your government, since independence in March 1990, not been able to reverse this "drastic and tragic" situation by returning the land to its original African owners?

      Nujoma
      No, we have a programme of taking back the land. We have a long term strategy. First, we are going to impose taxation on the land, because under colonialism the land was not taxed. It was done to attract more whites to come and occupy the land. We are going to tax them now, and if they cannot pay, then the government will take over the land. There are many ways to kill a cat, by giving it whatever it likes. You see, in 1982, eight years before independence, the British and the Americans had formulated and imposed on us the so-called Constitutional Principles document to favour the interests of individual white settlers who had, "by hook or by crook" acquired and occupied Namibian land during the colonial era. I want to emphasise here that the inclusion in our constitution of a clause concerning commercial lands, the so-called "willing seller, willing buyer" clause, which serves to perpetuate the status quo of inequity in land distribution in Namibia, was never in line with SWAPO's position in addressing the land question. This clause has resulted in the current land problem we have in the country.

      Baffour
      Has the experience of Zimbabwe had any impact on your land programme?

      Nujoma
      No, Zimbabwe is an extraordinary case. Zimbabwe is about half the size of Namibia, which in turn is about the size of France, Germany and the British Isles put together. And we have only a population of 1.8 million people, while Zimbabwe has 13 million indigenous people, and 75% of its land is in the hands of the British colonial settlers. So that makes a difference. In Namibia, we need more people. Yes we do have our own problems, we have a shortage of water, but we are going to bring water from DRCongo via the Zambezi water system to the Okavango and by pipes to all parts of Namibia.

      Baffour
      When is this programme starting?

      Nujoma
      This is a SADC programme now, but it was initiated by Namibia. The SADC mandated Namibia to do feasibility studies and report back, which we have done. The SADC is now in the process of mobilising funds for the project. You know that in Europe you can travel from France to Italy by boat, and all of it is by artificial water courses. The Suez Canal was built by French engineers, it is a long way to connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea to create a shortcut to the Far East, instead of going round the African continent via the Cape of Good Hope. We can do the same with the immense water resources of Congo.

      Baffour
      When you were a boy, the drivers of the cars used by the railway officials in South West Africa (now Namibia) were all white and it was forbidden, you say in your book, for a black person to be a driver. Even while cleaning a vehicle, blacks were not allowed to touch the steering wheel. That was taken as a threat to the white man, and a cleaner could be fired with immediate effect for such an offence. What does this say about the men who imposed that edict?

      Nujoma
      The idea of the white man was simple -- you as a black man must never think that one day you would be able to drive a car.

      Baffour
      Why did they feel so insecure?

      Nujoma
      Oh, because they have an inferiority complex. They felt that if the black man touched the steering wheel, he might one day think of possessing a car. So a car was supposed to be the privilege of the white man.

      Baffour
      What about painting, you say in the book that painting was equally for white men. Blacks could climb the ladder to clean the old paint, but a white man would come and do the painting. What a ridiculous society you lived in as a youth?

      Nujoma
      Yes, of course. The whites thought that if you knew how to paint, you might employ yourself one day as a painter and paint other people's houses.

      Baffour
      The really hilarious one was the trousers edict, which said trousers worn by blacks should have one leg shorter than the other so that blacks would be seen to be different from whites even in their clothing.

      Nujoma
      Yes, the idea of the minority white settlers was that blacks were confined to cleaning the floor, making tea, cooking for them or serving them. That's all. As a result, they deliberately denied us education and training. If you have no education and training, then you won't know anything except cheap labour.

      Baffour
      The main purpose of the short-leg-long-leg trousers edict was to differentiate the black person from the white. But as Africans, our skin colour is enough differentiation. Why did the regime need more differentiation?

      Nujoma
      That was the idea of D.F. Malan, the first prime minister of the Nationalist Party of South Africa. He ordered that blacks should not wear the same trousers as whites because we must look different. The whole idea was that blacks should feel inferior to whites.

      Baffour
      As a boy, when you first saw black contract workers ("virtual slaves," you call them in your book), being transported in cattle trucks, with tags bearing the names of their would-be white employers around their necks, it shocked you so much. It was from seeing this that you learned -- more than anything else -- that the Africans had to do something in order to change the situation. That was the watershed event for you politically, a kind of baptism that launched you on the road to the liberation struggle. Can you explain?

      Nujoma
      Well, of course, the Africans were employed as cheap labourers. And for them to feel inferior, they had to put around their necks a label on which their masters' names had been written, so that when they were travelling from say Grootfontein to Gobabis, the train conductor would look at their necks and say, "no, you can't catch that train, wait for this or that one". And sometimes he would tell them to take this or that road to their masters' farms. And if they went to the wrong farm, the white farmer would tell them "no, you must continue" until they reached where they were supposed to work. As I say in my book, the contract system was the most urgent evil to be dealt with. I had seen examples of the physical attacks on contract workers even as a young child at home. I had seen on the railways that employers considered their contract workers as less than human beings, as mere objects that could be thrown away when unfit for work, even because of injuries suffered at their work. Many times I took direct action on behalf of young men who were beaten by Boers. In fact, whenever I met a young boy when I was still a railway worker, I would throw his contract papers into the toilet and take him to school in the Old Location where some of the teachers were my friends.

      Baffour
      You even had something called the WENALA system...

      Nujoma
      [cuts in] ...Oh yes, WENALA stands for Witwatersrand Native Labour Association. It recruited migrant labourers from modern-day Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and even as far afield as Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Remember all these were British colonies. This was how South Africa's economy was built up -- through the mines, by the blood and tears of almost the whole of the sub-continent. Workers were recruited from Angola too, and at Rundu in Namibia. But on the whole, Namibians were reserved only for the mining industry inside Namibia itself, as well as for the government and white farmers here, and also as domestic servants. The WENALA system had in fact been originally established by the Anglo-American Corporation whose plane flew the WENALA recruits from all these territories to Francistown, and then by train to South Africa. The labourers from Uganda and Kenya were brought in by truck to Mbeya in Tanzania and then flown from there to the mines in South Africa.

      Baffour
      And then came Ghana's independence in March 1957. You say in the book that it was an eye-opener for Namibians. "To us," you write, "it was the most important international political event after the end of the Second World War. It had tremendous impact and provided a ray of hope for the future of Namibia's liberation." Can you expatiate?

      Nujoma
      Well, it was an important event for the entire continent of Africa, because Ghana was the first to achieve independence in the so-called Sub-Saharan Africa. It means literally all the blacks south of the Sahara, excluding the Arabs. Egypt was then a puppet of the British. The Egyptian king, Farouk, was a puppet of the British, so was King Idriss of Libya. Because Farouk was a puppet, the British thought the Suez Canal belonged to them. That was why President Abdel Nasser went to war with the British in 1956 and nationalised the Suez Canal. So, yes, Sudan's independence on 1 January 1956 had been a foretaste, but Ghana, led by Nkrumah, was a real inspiration.

      Baffour
      Still on Ghana, why do you in Namibia still celebrate Nkrumah's birthday while his own country does not? Why do you still have such fond memories of him?

      Nujoma
      Because Nkrumah played such a vital role in promoting the liberation of the continent. For example, before Nkrumah organised the Positive Action Conference in Accra in April 1960 against the French government testing of the atomic bomb in the Sahara Desert while the Algerians were still fighting for their liberation from France, he had built a special big building [called Job 600 or State House] to host the Conference. And I remember there were headlines in the imperialist newspapers saying the building had cost £8m, and that Nkrumah was wasting Ghana's money. But in that building, all the African colonies had been given their special apartments for the duration of the Conference, and that really boosted our self-pride and confidence, and encouraged us to believe that yes, one day we too would be free and would participate as full members of the OAU. In fact, Nkrumah did not only encourage us, but his government also spent a lot of money in publicising the cause of the oppressed people of Africa. This greatly contributed to the awakening of the African people to demand their freedom and independence. I remember clearly to this day Nkrumah's words at the Conference. "The continent is awakened, the sleeping giant is aroused." The whole continent was represented at the conference, from Algeria to South Africa. On the personal level, I held several talks with Nkrumah, and on each occasion he urged me to "keep on, the Ghana government is behind you." It was immensely encouraging to know that a free African country was supporting us.

      Baffour
      In Accra, when you met Nkrumah for the first time, how did you feel?

      Nujoma
      I felt as if I was breathing fresh air, in fact free air. In Accra, you had no fear any more of the white man. Because when I passed through Lagos Airport, I had flown from Khartoum in Sudan by Air Liban which was then flying across the continent, I saw British officials in white shorts walking up and down the airport corridors. I just sat in one corner waiting for my connecting flight to Accra. And what a difference Accra made! When I arrived at the Accra Airport, I felt no more fear of being arrested or being questioned by anybody. I was met at the airport and taken to the African Affairs Centre where we stayed. The conference was duly held and I made a statement about the massacre that had taken place here in Namibia on 10 December 1959. At the Windhoek Old Location where our people lived, 12 unarmed peaceful protesters had been killed and more than 50 injured by the racist South African police. So I made a statement about it in Accra. In fact, that massacre was very central to my decision to go into exile in order to intensify the struggle on behalf of our people. Little did I know then that my exile would last 29 years.

      Baffour
      In your book, you say SWAPO launched the liberation struggle on 26 August 1966 with four weapons given you by President Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria. So you did actually start the liberation of Namibia with just four weapons?

      Nujoma
      Yes, because it was not easy to carry the weapons across borders. For example, we flew with the weapons from Algeria by Air Algeria to Cairo, Egypt. Then from Cairo we flew with the United Arab Airlines (now Egypt Air) to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, via Nairobi, Kenya. From Dar es Salaam, we smuggled the weapons through Zambia across the Zambezi River into the Caprivi Strip, and then all the way to north-western Namibia where we had a secret base from where we launched the armed struggle in 1966.

      Baffour
      It shows that nothing is impossible, even with four weapons you can liberate a country.

      Nujoma
      Of course! We later captured some weapons from the enemy. But remember, in the battle for freedom, it is not the armoury of the oppressor that matters, it is the will of the people.

      Baffour
      The first SWAPO guerrillas to cross the Angola border at Oshikango into northern Namibia in May 1974 included your three sons Utoni, Ndeshipanda and Nefungo (and you had only three sons, and two daughters). That was a novelty, because most leaders don't send their sons into battle, they send other people's sons. Why did you do that?

      Nujoma
      The struggle was supposed to be fought by all Namibians.

      Baffour
      And your sons were Namibians.

      Nujoma
      Yes, my sons were among the first group led by John Ya Otto and later by Israel Lungada who participated in the launching of the armed struggle. And he had a pistol with which he shot and killed the highest ranking Boer in that battle, a warrant officer. For that, the Boers chased him for nine years. They believed that we had African magic that changed us into wolves and jackals at the sound of a gun. Can you imagine that the Boers used helicopters and armoured cars and trucks to chase this man for nine years? And whenever they shot at him, they thought he changed into a wolf or a jackal or a hill.

      Baffour
      Anybody reading your book is going to be surprised that you, the leader of the struggle, did send all your three sons into battle at a go. What if they were all killed in that battle?

      Nujoma
      Well, but the liberation of our country was supposed to be done by all Namibians irrespective of birth.

      Baffour
      Namibia, the Land of the Brave, was named after the Namib Desert. But a desert connotes death. If you consider that, as a country, Namibia was about to be born at the time of the name change from South West Africa, it was like a new baby coming into the world, a new life. And yet you named it after a desert, connoting death. How do you reconcile the two - a new life called death?

      Nujoma
      No, unlike other deserts, our desert, the Namib, had always been our "shield," keeping colonisers and slave traders at bay for many centuries. You know it runs along the coast, from north to south of our country, in certain parts 90 kms (but on the average 60 kms) wide. So it prevented predators like the Portuguese Bartholomew Diaz and others from venturing inland and possibly cause us harm. When the first European explorers landed on our shores, they saw nothing but this huge desert. So they were compelled to move south along the coast from Cape Cross to Luderitz and even further south. They only saw vegetation when they reached Cape Town in South Africa, where they got fresh water and other supplies from the indigenous South Africans. The Namib is also teeming with mineral resources -- uranium, diamonds, gold, you name it. To us, the Namib is not a dead desert. The uranium, diamonds, gold and the other minerals do give life to our country. We couldn't have developed this country without the natural resources found in the Namib Desert. In fact, in January 1969, in explaining to the world in Namibia Today why we had chosen the name, we said that our desert "constitutes such a vivid versatility unknown of any other desert in the world. Conceived from these perspectives, the Namib, we believe, is not just a wasted land of dunes, but a resourceful region. The natural defence shield, the rich fishing ground [off the coast which shares borders with the desert], uranium, and the diamond fields of the Namib are valuable attributes of our national territory. This is why we have chosen to call our country Namibia -- the land of the brave." It was done in honour of the Namib's life-giving properties.

      Baffour
      In 1966, during the one-month-long UN debate on the termination of the South African mandate over Namibia, the British were strongly opposed to not only the termination of the mandate, but also the adoption of the name Namibia by the UN because they claimed that you and SWAPO had imposed it on the people. Today when you see the British parading as the champions of human rights and democracy for black people in places like Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, how do you feel?

      Nujoma
      Oh, the British were the ones who were actually exploiting the resources of this country, even up to now. The so-called First National Bank here is the Barclays Bank of Britain. These are branches of the Barclays Bank in South Africa, and their headquarters is in Britain. So when the British talk about invisible budgets, they mean the resources they are exploiting from our countries.

      Baffour
      But it is not only the British, the Americans were also staunchly opposed to black majority rule in our countries. Both the US and Britain supported the white minority regimes for decades and at one time, Britain, America and France exercised a triple veto at the UN Security Council to block the expulsion of apartheid South Africa from the world body.

      Nujoma
      Of course, the imperialists depend on exploiting other people.

      Baffour
      In your book, you say that "saving the whites and ensuring unhindered and continued access to raw materials, strategic minerals and sea lanes was really the rescue mission that brought Henry Kissinger to Southern Africa on the so-called 'peace shuttle' of 1978, not self-determination, independence and human rights of the black majority." Can you explain?

      Nujoma
      Yes, the main aim of the colonialists was to enrich themselves. They were against genuine independence and freedom for our people.

      Baffour
      But Kissinger managed to get Ian Smith to agree to Zimbabwean independence, something Smith had earlier said would not happen in his lifetime, "not even in a thousand years," he added for good measure.

      Nujoma
      Well, I think what really forced the British to act against Ian Smith was the threat by Nigeria to nationalise the Shell oil company and the other British interests in Nigeria. It was not because of Kissinger's shuttle. Kissinger was just trying to strengthen the whites -- the Portuguese in Angola and Mozambique, the white minority in Rhodesia, and here in Namibia apartheid South Africa. But it was already too late, because the Portuguese soldiers who were fighting in Angola and Mozambique got tired of being bitten by mosquitoes and snakes, and they staged a coup d'etat in Portugal and that strengthened the Frontline States. You know, Nigeria played a vital role supporting the Frontline States.

      Baffour
      In your book, you also talk about a very emotional event, the Cassinga massacre in Angola on 4 May 1978. On that day, the South Africans attacked the SWAPO refugee transit camp at Cassinga, killing over 1,000 refugees. It was a day of infamy that emotionally affected you and SWAPO so much. Why? Was it because Cassinga was not a military camp?

      Nujoma
      Cassinga was a reception centre for our new arrivals, refugees who were leaving Namibia to join the struggle. It was given to us by President Agostino Neto of Angola. It was a reception centre. It used to be an iron ore mine. There were living quarters for the miners, so we used these as a reception centre for our new arrivals. The Boers of course got wind of it. On 4 May 1978, the Boers first sent a wave of Buccaneer aircrafts over Cassinga. The first bombs they dropped were filled with poisoned gas, biological weapons, that destroyed the oxygen in the air and made our people to collapse. The Boers then sent a second wave of Mirage jetfighters to strafe the camp and set it ablaze. They then sent yet a third wave of helicopters that dropped paratroopers into the camp. They proceeded to shoot and bayonet our people who had not already died from the bombing. As you correctly stated, they killed more than 1,000 and injured many more. They even took some of our people away.

      Baffour
      When something like this happened during the struggle, how did you feel? Did you cry? Have you ever cried?

      Nujoma
      Well, we were then in New York negotiating with the apartheid regime and the Western Contact Group made up of Canada and Germany (as non-members of the Security Council) and France, Britain and the US (as members). So we just walked out of the discussion and returned to Africa. We re-organised ourselves and intensified the armed struggle.

      Baffour
      Which flows nicely into my next question. The erstwhile president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, has been indicted by the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone for his alleged crimes in Sierra Leone. Today many people, including Africans and the African Bar Association, are baying for his blood. There is also a UN Tribunal trying the people who allegedly committed the genocide in Rwanda, and many thousands more Rwandans are in prison without trial allegedly for the roles they played in that genocide. We've just been talking about Cassinga and the other horrendous massacres and crimes committed against Africans by the white minority regimes in Southern Africa. Yet nobody, neither the UN, nor Africans themselves, or the international community, is baying for the blood of the white people who committed those crimes against our people in Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, in fact all over Southern Africa. Why? Is it because the perpetrators were whites?

      Nujoma
      It is because the imperialists use their vetoes, how many times did the French, British and the Americans use their triple vetoes to kill UN resolutions calling for economic sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa and Namibia, or the Ian Smith regime in Zimbabwe or the Portuguese imperialists in Mozambique and Angola? They used their vetoes and said there must be negotiations, but we never listened to them. We intensified the armed struggle until we defeated them all.

      Baffour
      Isn't it distressing that in the face of all these atrocities, all that the African does, or made to do, is forgive and forget. Or at best we get a truth and reconciliation commission as we got in South Africa. Yet if a black person like Charles Taylor had committed those atrocities against black people, the same atrocities that the whites committed against our people, the UN, the Africans themselves and the whole international community would be baying for his blood, as they are currently doing for Charles Taylor's blood. Why are we, as Africans, prepared to forgive and forget crimes committed against us by the whites, but are not prepared to forgive and forget crimes committed against us by black people?

      Nujoma
      Well, we, the African people, are normally very generous and we think that it is necessary for us to show to these barbarians who think they are civilised that we are more civilised than them. We still have them here in Namibia, those who killed our people. Of course now they have to toe the line and follow the policies and laws of the Republic of Namibia. We have a policy of national reconciliation, because the indigenous people were also made to fight among ourselves. Some blacks were recruited into the enemy army. When the enemy realised that the whites alone could not defeat us, they recruited a lot of black puppets here into the Koevoet [the Crow Bar Unit] that was specially trained to kill indigenous Namibians, including women if they were found to be delivering food to SWAPO guerrillas. The other puppet group was the South West Africa Territorial Force which was also put together with the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA). These puppet groups were created here by South Africa, but they were never supported by the people. We ended up defeating them all. Even the Americans supported the South Africans to install a puppet regime here, but we came in, in full force, and defeated them. You see when we arrived here under Resolution 435, the Boers thought the people would be frightened and would refuse to associate with us. But we came as victors because the people had seen how we had attacked the Boers and how many of them had lain where they fell for days and weeks without being collected for burial.

      Baffour
      1978, the year of the Cassinga massacre, saw the emergence of Mrs. Thatcher as British prime minister, and later in 1980 Ronald Reagan as president of USA. These two leaders, you say in your book, were bad news for the liberation struggle. How bad were they?

      Nujoma
      Oh, Reagan was pro-apartheid compared with the Carter administration which supported us and all the UN resolutions on Namibia passed at the time, including Resolution 435, which was in fact initiated by the Carter administration. Carter lost the elections of 1980 and Reagan took over and turned everything upside down. He even took the Boer soldiers all the way to America to be trained in anti-insurgent tactics. Under Reagan, the Americans even came here in Namibia and fought alongside the Boers against us. But we defeated them! Cuito Cuanavale was the final defeat of the enemy. And P.W. Botha when he heard that his so-called Presidential Regiment had been crushed by us, was so devastated that he took to the drinking of brandy until he collapsed and developed a stroke.

      Baffour
      In your book, you say Mrs. Thatcher made trips to Namibia under the pretext of visiting the Rossing Uranium Company, a subsidiary of the British Rio Tinto Zinc, which had exploited Namibia's uranium for so long. "Thatcher," you write, "cared little about the massacre of the Namibian people, placing more importance on the economic exploitation and profits the company was making."

      Nujoma
      Of course, that is the clear aim of the imperialists. They came here, and are still here, to exploit the resources of our countries.

      Baffour
      Did you ever meet Mrs. Thatcher and President Reagan, and what did you say to them?

      Nujoma
      Yes, she came here and asked for an appointment. You know she has a son who is running a business in South Africa. I don't know why she decided to come here, but I granted her the appointment. I had lunch with her, but she refused to talk to the press.

      Baffour
      During the lunch, did you talk about some of the things she had done in the past, trying to block Namibia's liberation?

      Nujoma
      No, no. I just wanted her to feel small.

      Baffour
      During the struggle, you say in the book, that some Western journalists based in Namibia were on the payroll of the South Africans, and were more than willing to accept South African army propaganda and disinformation rather than go and find out the truth for themselves. On the other hand, you were persistently attacked in the Western media as a warmonger, while your replies were deliberately ignored. What did that do to your faith in the so-called free press of the West?

      Nujoma
      I knew that the imperialists lived, and still live, on propaganda, to blackmail all of us. They used to print cartoons of me in the newspapers here, depicting me as a wolf eating babies. I was supposed to have a human face but from the neck down, I was a wolf, eating babies. This they put in their pamphlets which they dropped all over Namibia.

      Baffour
      Let's come into the present. Now that South Africa is back into the African fold, we have a total liberation of the continent, at least, politically. As an elder statesman, what message do you have for the current generation of Africans and their leaders?

      Nujoma
      I would like to say that after the total liberation of the African continent in 1994 when South Africa became a genuine non-racial democratic country, we, as African countries, as African governments, must unite and embark upon a crash programme of what I call the second phase of the struggle, a struggle of economic independence. By this, I mean, we must, first of all, conduct scientific research and critically analyse what resources we have on the continent as a whole. After this research, we have to adopt priorities to ensure that Africa's natural resources are not stolen or bought cheaply as they have been over the years to benefit non-African peoples. That all our resources should be processed here into finished products. For example, if it is copper, it must be processed into cables and the other by-products for export as finished products. That will provide employment for the African people and also bring in the necessary foreign currency that would further strengthen the African governments and economies. Agriculture must be a priority in order to produce adequate food for our people. In all this, the priority of priorities must be DRCongo. Congo is the heart of Africa, and it is the single richest country in the African Union. Just look at the country's massive water resources, if Congo is developed agriculturally to the level of Switzerland where they cut the mountains and fill it with top soil to grow food, Congo can supply the whole of Africa with adequate food and have a surplus for export. Congo, again, has the second largest rapids in the world. If the Inga electric plant is utilised to its full capacity, it can provide the whole of Africa with adequate and cheaper electricity for the development of the continent, and again, have a surplus for export to Europe or Asia. Congo has that capacity, and therefore it should be a priority above all priorities in the development of the AU member states. And countries like Nigeria which have vast oil and gas resources should utilise them for the benefit of the African people. The other countries like Cameroon, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville and Angola should also refine their oil on the continent and only export it as finished products...

      Baffour
      [cuts in] ...What about our immense mineral wealth?

      Nujoma
      Yes, Africa is rich in other minerals. For example, Namibia, Zambia and DRCongo alone can control the world copper price. But now Congolese copper is being exported in its raw form, Zambian copper is being exported in its raw form, Namibian copper is being exported in its raw form. They are all being taken to Europe and elsewhere in their raw form. That must change if we, as a continent, are to develop. We must process these resources into finished products here on the continent. This, to me, should be the second phase of the struggle to empower our people. This phase should also cover education -- proper education! We must educate our youth in the various disciplines, in subjects that are relevant to what Africa possesses as a continent and not in irrelevant subjects as we are currently doing, which, at the end of the courses, our students don't know what they are going to do. Here in Namibia, for example, we have a lot of copper, we have uranium, but we always have droughts, in fact we've had a drought for the last three years, one of the severest in the history of the country. If we train our own engineers and scientists, we can desalinate the Atlantic sea water using nuclear energy or alternative desalination methods so that our towns like Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and the others can have enough water. Now all these resources like uranium are being taken out by foreign companies to benefit foreigners while we are struggling here.

      Baffour
      Namibia is due to hold elections in 2005, and already there are people speculating that the president wants to stay for a fourth term. They are saying he changed the constitution last time and stayed for a third term, and he still wants a fourth time. What do you say to such people? Fourth term or no fourth term for President Nujoma?

      Nujoma
      Well, I am now serving my third term, and this was at the request of the Namibian people. They demanded it! So I served a third term. I can tell you today that I don't need a fourth term, because the party machinery is there to take care of affairs. There is a vice president and a secretary general, if I am not there or anything happens to me, the vice president will take over. We are organised. We are not a disorganised people. We know exactly what we want, and how to get it too.

      Baffour
      So you are confirming to your people and the world today that you will retire at the next elections?

      Nujoma
      Sure. You know I am also growing old. Age doesn't wait for anybody. I am going to retire to the party headquarters.

      Baffour
      So, there will be no fourth term for President Nujoma?

      Nujoma
      No. Some people are demanding it, but I don't think I want to do it. I must give the chance to the young people who have the strength to run the country. Because being a president, you have to attend to national issues, the reconstruction of the country, and still attend international conferences and AU meetings. This is quite a heavy demand on the human body. And I am already 74. At my next birthday in May, I will be 75.

      Baffour
      What will you do when you retire?

      Nujoma
      I will retire to the party headquarters and concentrate on the business there.

      Baffour
      How is the party, SWAPO, handling the succession problem?

      Nujoma
      Clearly we have the party echelon in place. We have the president, the vice president, the secretary general, the deputy secretary general. We also have the Congress that elects the members of the Central Committee, which in turn elects the members of the Politburo which carry out the day-to-day activities of the party. So SWAPO is organised.

      Baffour
      So you haven't anointed anybody yet to take over from you?

      Nujoma
      Well, the vice president is there. SWAPO is organised. We have the machinery set.

      Baffour
      Which brings me to Zimbabwe. You and most SADC leaders, in fact most African leaders, have staunchly supported President Mugabe in the face of the Western onslaught and strangulation of Zimbabwe. Why? Are you supporting him because you think that if we allow imperialism to sweep away Mugabe and Zanu-PF, who or what's next in Africa?

      Nujoma
      No! It is a question of Zimbabwe being a member of the SADC and a member of the African Union, so we cannot allow any foreigners to come and attack one of our members or single it out for overthrow. We say injury to one is injury to all. So if the imperialists are trying to divide us, we will not allow it, because our strength depends on unity -- unity of purpose and action.

      Baffour
      But is it just blind unity? Like his opponents at home and abroad say, President Mugabe is wrong on the land issue, he is abusing human rights, he is violating this and that, do you necessarily have to support him because of unity?

      Nujoma
      No. What human rights? There are regular elections in Zimbabwe. One was held there in March last year. The Zimbabwean people had the opportunity to democratically elect their president, and they did! The imperialists recognised the seats won by their puppets in Zimbabwe, but they don't recognise the seats won by Zanu-PF. So what kind of democracy is that? They are hypocrites!

      Baffour
      When we interviewed President Muluzi of Malawi recently, he was quite categorical that the West dictates to African leaders. "Do this, don't do that, you must do it our way or you don't get any aid from us." Has that also been your experience, in your 13 years as president? Have you ever come under such pressure?

      Nujoma
      No, no, no. We only trade with them. Our policy in Namibia is to trade with other countries, including the imperialist countries. No, we don't depend on them. We can very well exist without them and their financial support. We don't beg them for anything.

      Baffour
      In all your 13 years as president, they haven't put any pressure on you to do things their way and against your better judgement?

      Nujoma
      They know that they have no capacity to put pressure on me.

      Baffour
      But have they ever tried?

      Nujoma
      Even if they try, they know they will not get anywhere.

      Baffour
      So they won't come at all?

      Nujoma
      Yes, they know that even if they come, they would be resisted.

      Baffour
      When President Bush visited Southern African this July, people thought he would put pressure on the SADC leaders to isolate President Mugabe, or even to oust him. But since his return to Washington, Bush and Tony Blair in London have both been very quiet on Zimbabwe. Do you think their silence is a victory for the solidarity and unity of the African leaders? Why do you think they are quiet now?

      Nujoma
      They know that we are not there to be used by them. In Namibia, for example, we are clear, we trade with other countries, and that trade must be based on mutual respect. It must be co-operation and mutual benefit to all. No exploitation of man by man. That will not be allowed here.

      Baffour
      You mentioned the massacre of the Hereros even in the church. But there are people who say your government is not too keen on the Herero attempt to get reparations from the Germans. Why?

      Nujoma
      Well, we must be realistic. If we are demanding reparations and asking the Germans to do to us as they did to Holland, Israel and the others, we must remember that when Nazi Germany was defeated and they were forced to sign the treaty about their defeat, some generals refused to sign and they were hanged. As a result, successive German governments have had to pay the reparations. But we, in Namibia, have no capacity now to force Germany to pay. So how do we do it?

      Baffour
      Through the courts, through the international courts.

      Nujoma
      Oh, the courts are dominated by the imperialists, what are you talking about? Unless you are saying we must go to war. But what shall we gain by waging another war? I think we must first strengthen ourselves economically on the continent as a whole, then we can tell the imperialists that "no, we don't this, we don't agree to this, we won't allow you to do this," and so on.

      Baffour
      But they have just forced Libya to cough up $2.7 billion in reparations for the Lockerbie air disaster victims?

      Nujoma
      Yes, of course, the imperialists are united.

      Baffour
      As we speak, the IMF and World Bank are holding their joint annual meeting in Dubai. Many Africans are very critical of the roles played by these two institutions in their countries. What do you think yourself -- are the IMF and World Bank a force for good in Africa or just a front for the Western powers as their critics say?

      Nujoma
      Oh, they are the imperialists' well-organised machinery to get African cheap labour and raw materials for their economic development. Thank God, Namibia has not taken anything from these institutions, even though we are members. We pay our annual dues but take nothing from them.

      Baffour
      Why not?

      Nujoma
      We don't need it. We don't think we should take anything from them. We are ready to tighten our belts and work hard. We can only take something from them when we have a major, major, major project to do in our country which will benefit our people. But small, small handouts, we don't want it, we won't take it.

      Baffour
      So you haven't taken anything from them in 13 years as an independent country?

      Nujoma
      In 13 years as an independent country, we have not taken a penny from them!

      Baffour
      That is quite heart warming, because many African countries are performing somersaults to get the favours of the IMF and World Bank.

      Nujoma
      In Namibia, we don't do that. We are members of these institutions, but we don't take anything from them. We will only take money from them when we have a major economic project to do.

      Baffour
      You talked earlier about DRCongo, what made Namibia to intervene in Congo along with Zimbabwe and Angola against the invasion by Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and their rebel associates?

      Nujoma
      We intervened because imperialist agents first attacked Congo. Congo is our neighbour and we couldn't allow a member of the SADC to be attacked by imperialist agents. So we went there to stop them. Now the UN is there, peace is coming. That was what we wanted to see, peace. We want to see peace throughout Africa. So if there is any attempt by imperialist agents to cause trouble anywhere in Africa, we have the duty to send our troops to crush them.

      Baffour
      As an elder statesman, why do you think some African leaders allow themselves to be used by outside powers, like in the Congo?

      Nujoma
      Well, you go and ask them [laughs].

      Baffour
      Would Namibia send troops to Iraq if asked by the UN?

      Nujoma
      No, no. Our troops will, and should, never go to Iraq.

      Baffour
      Should African countries send their troops to Iraq when asked by the UN?

      Nujoma
      I don't know. The Americans said the UN should get out of Iraq. How come they now come back to the same UN and ask for help? There is a contradiction.

      Baffour
      As you prepare to retire as one of Africa's elder statesmen, how do you see the future of the continent? Any hope for the African Union?

      Nujoma
      The continent has a bright future. We only need to educate our own scientists, our own engineers, our own geologists, our own marine experts, our own agriculturists, and properly utilise the resources we have on the continent. This is the richest continent in the whole world! In terms of natural resources, African can only be challenged maybe by the Russian Federation and China. Maybe. Africa is the richest continent on earth, and with a small population too!.

      Baffour
      What is your candid opinion about NEPAD? Shouldn't the emphasis rather be on the African Union instead of NEPAD?

      Nujoma
      No, no. NEPAD is the economic implementation arm of the African Union, just as the UNDP is the economic implementation arm of the United Nations. It is the AU member states that will decide what resources NEPAD should gather for the development of the continent. We have to embark on major African regional projects such as the road from Algeria, via Mali all the way to Senegal, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, then to Kenya, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, things like that. Communication is very important. This is the kind of money we must get from the World Bank, because we are members, and not small, small pocket money.

      Baffour
      The critics of NEPAD don't like the idea that we wrote our economic policy as a continent and then took it to "the masters" to approve it. And he who pays the piper, calls the tune.

      Nujoma
      No, no. Namibia would not have participated in any such thing. We cannot allow NEPAD which is the implementing arm of the African Union to be used by anybody.

      Baffour
      Let's look at the United Nations. Isn't it time Africa got a permanent voice or seat on the Security Council?

      Nujoma
      Yes, Africa is the second largest continent in the world and we need at least four permanent members on the UN Security Council, and with vetoes!

      Baffour
      But why aren't our leaders fighting for it, or even talking about it?

      Nujoma
      We are.

      Baffour
      So, why don't we see any action by our leaders at the UN in this regard?

      Nujoma
      As far as I am concerned, there must be reforms at the UN, especially in the Security Council, so that there will be parity for all member states.

      Baffour
      Last year, you caused quite a stir at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg when you took on Tony Blair over the Zimbabwe issue. Have you since had any interactions with him or the British government? Have they come back to you or tried to put pressure on you or squeeze Namibia?

      Nujoma
      No, no. I took him on because the British were just trying to deceive the world. They, and particularly Tony Blair, had to be told the truth.

      Baffour
      Why did you confront him like that? Normally, presidents like you want to use diplomatic language or say the things you said to Tony Blair out of public glare. Why did you confront him publicly and at a major conference as the Earth Summit?

      Nujoma
      Because he was cheating, he was causing the problem and yet telling the world lies about Zimbabwe. The British didn't bring any piece of land from England to Zimbabwe. So why should Blair be allowed to deceive the world by saying that the British had the right to have the land there. Yes, if they were Zimbabwean-British, that would have been a different matter. In Namibia, we also have whites here and they own property, but they are Namibians!

      Baffour
      Has Tony Blair talked to you since that day?

      Nujoma
      No.

      Baffour
      Finally, when history comes to be written, how do you want to be remembered?

      Nujoma
      That it was my firm belief, as I say in the very last paragraph of my book, that the independence victory of SWAPO would enable the Namibian people to participate in the wider pan-African movement to attain the ultimate goal of a united continent in which the aspirations of the African people both on the continent and in the Diaspora will be achieved. Africa must stand on its own feet. Africa must never depend on others. Africa must stand tall among the nations. And Africa must ensure that our people in the Diaspora are also respected by other nations. Up till now, in the Americas, they still discriminate against our people.

      Baffour
      Are you saying the African Union should bring the Diaspora under its wings, and give them a more prominent role?

      Nujoma
      Of course! We must exert pressure on the countries where our Diasporan brothers and sisters live, that there must be parity for all the people in those countries regardless of skin colour. There should be no discrimination against the people of African descent in those countries. Whoever discriminates against the people of African descent, the AU should be able to deal with them. We have their ambassadors here. We should call them in and protest vehemently against any such discrimination. Of course the AU must fight for the wellbeing of the African Diaspora. They may have gone a long time ago, during the slavery era, but they are still African, our very flesh and blood, they are descendants of the African people, and we, in the AU, must not sit and watch as they suffer discrimination. In the Americas, for example, it is only Cuba that doesn't discriminate against the people of African descent. All the rest do! We must protest strongly against this. Africa is not a poor continent, and we must not allow our people to be badly treated. We must always assess our strengths, and we know we are strong, only that we are not united. Unity is a sharp weapon for us to fight against those who are trying to despise Africa.
      Thirty eight years ago on 12/04/2009 the united snakes murdered Fred Hampton & Mark Clark, this date also marks the 6 year anniversary of the launching of this site in solidarity of these martyrs.

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