The birth of self-rule
By Hilary Mare
ON the day of independence, March 21, 1990, Founding President, Sam Nujoma described the day as the most memorable and indeed the most emotional moment in the annals of Namibia’s history.
It was the moment for which Namibians had waiting for more than century.
In his speech, Nujoma highlighted that it was the day for which tens of thousands of Namibian patriots laid down their lives, shed their precious blood, suffered imprisonment and endured a difficult life in exile.
“For the past 43 years or so this land of our forebears has been a bone of contention between the Namibian people and the international community, on one hand, and South Africa, on the other. The Namibian problem has been at the centre of bitter international dispute over the last four decades. The United Nations and other international bodies produced huge volumes of resolutions in an attempt to resolve this intractable problem.
“However, it places me to state that we are gathered here today, not to pass yet another resolution, but to celebrate the dawn of a new era in this land and to proclaim to the world that a new star has risen on the African continent. Africa’s last colony is, from this hour, liberated. It is, therefore, profoundly momentous and highly joyous, for the Namibian people and myself, that the highest representative of the international community – the Secretary – General of the United Nations – together with the State President of South Africa, and the Namibian nation, which I am honoured to lead, are able to announce here today to the world that a definitive and final solution the protracted Namibian problem has, indeed, been unanimously reached by these three parties,” Nujoma said.
He went on to say that for the Namibian people, the realization of the most cherished goal, namely, the independence of the country and freedom of the people, is a fitting tribute to the heroism and tenacity with which Namibians fought for independence.
“We have been sustained in our in our difficult struggle by the powerful force of conviction – in the righteousness and justness of our cause. Today, history has absolved us. Our vision of a democratic state of Namibia has been translated into a reality. With regard to the international community, the achievement of Namibia’s independence today is, we believe, a welcome and laudable culmination of many years of consistent support for our cause. The world’s demand for our country to be allowed to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination and independence has been achieved. We express our most sincere gratitude to the international community for its steadfast support.
“As for the Government of South Africa, it can be said that the decision to accept the implementation of Resolution 435 has been the first demonstration of political will to find a negotiated solution to the problems of our region. Furthermore, President De Klerk’s proclamation here today that South Africa has reached a final and irreversible decision to relinquish control over Namibia is an act of statesmanship and realism. This, we hope, will continue to unfold in South Africa itself,” remarked Nujoma.
He also acknowledged that the protracted process of negotiating an agreement on Resolution 435 and the struggle for its implementation had been difficult and, at times, acrimonious.
“It was only perseverance, forbearance and commitment which helped us to see the process through to its logical conclusion, namely, the birth of the Namibian nation we are about to witness here. Against this background, it is heartening for the Namibian people and myself, to know that our independence has been achieved under conditions of national consensus and international unanimity. The impressive presence here today of so many world leaders and other dignitaries is a clear testimony to the fact that Namibia’s achievement of independence is an event of great world importance. For us, this is yet another reason for celebration.
With respect to the important question of national consensus, I am glad to announce that, following the independence election last November, the various Namibian political parties have been able to work together in the Constituent Assembly, where we formulated and adopted a Constitution acceptable to the board majority of our people,” he further said.