Shipanga impacted my life – Geingob

By Tracy Tafirenyika

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob has expressed how deeply touched he was by the passing of ‘Meester’ Martin Lazarus Shipanga and highlighted that the fallen hero had hugely impacted his life and left an external footprint that cannot be matched.

Shipanga who died on June 28 aged 88 was declared a national hero and was buried at the Heroes’ Acre on Saturday.

During the burial, Geingob explained how disheartened he felt at the passing of one of Namibia’s greatest citizens; a teacher, a mentor, friend, national hero and one who had made Namibians become the recognised people they are today.

“My interaction with this outstanding human being and great teacher left an eternal footprint on my life. I recall vividly, his lessons in Geography where he would say in Afrikaans, “As jy van Frankryk praat, dan dink jy van die Edik van Nantes, Franse Hugenote en Franse wyn.” Who can forget that? Even today, when l think of France, l recall the teachings of Shipanga.

“His teaching permeated every aspect of our lives, beyond the classroom. For example, he instructed us in the area of etiquette and attire, ensuring that we had impeccable table manners and a decent dress code. Meester was disciplined, cultured, well-dressed, patient and exuded utmost civility at all times,” he said.

Furthermore, Geingob highlighted how Shipanga impacted the lives of Namibians by contributing excessively in the education of Namibians under difficult circumstances of the liberation struggle.

“As l reminisce about this great soul and what his legacy means to many of us, I am reminded of the words of the former President of South Africa, the late Comrade Nelson ‘Madiba’ Mandela, who once said, “Education is the great engine of personal development.

“It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation.

“Today, here we stand on the shoulders of one of our departed giants, sons and daughters of peasants, mineworkers and farmworkers. Through the exceptional contributions of Meester Shipanga, we can all attest, that indeed, education is the great engine of personal development and the greatest equaliser.”

Geingob explained in his speech that Shipanga left two enduring qualities, which he wishes Namibians could emulate:

“This is a man who imparted not only a great deal of knowledge to his students, but he did so with a sense of respect and a shared national identity. No tribal or regional identity.

“Shipanga touched our hearts in distinctive ways that no words can ever accurately capture, how he touched our hearts and our lives gives us a sense of celebration. After all it gives us comfort that his legacy as an outstanding Namibian will continue to live through generations,” concluded Geingob.