President Mukherjee pays homage to Namibia’s martyrs at Heroes’ Acre war memorial

Windhoek (Namibia) : President Pranab Mukherjee, who is currently on a two-day state visit to Namibia, today paid homage and tribute to Namibia’s martyrs at “The Heroes’ Acre”, the official war memorial of the country.

Escorted by soldiers of the Namibian armed forces and accompanying Namibian dignitaries, the President placed a wreath at the base of the war memorial. The visiting dignitary and his accompanying delegation observed two minutes silence as a mark of respect for the heroes of Namibia’s independence struggle. Officials also briefed the Indian president on the historicity and significance of the war memorial. Thereafter, the Indian delegation left the venue and headed towards the venue where the president would address the business community.

Built less than 10 kilometers outside Namibian capital Windhoek, Heroes’ Acre was opened to the public for the first time on August 26, 2002 and according to official sources here, operates for the purpose of fostering a spirit of patriotism and nationalism, and to pass on the legacy to the future generations of Namibia.

The Heroes’ Acre monument is situated south of Windhoek on the B1 national road to Rehoboth. It is built as a symmetric polygon with a marble obelisk and a bronze statue of the Unknown Soldier at its centre. The site contains parade grounds and a grandstand for 5000 people. It is the burial site of 174 tombs, not all of which are occupied.

When it was first opened, nine national heroes and heroines were identified. For each of them, a tombstone with a name and a picture has been erected, although they are not buried here. The nine national heroes are:

Kahimemua Nguvauva (1850-1896), Chief of the Ovambanderu, was wounded May 1896 in the Battle of Sturmfeld and after his surrender executed by the Germans

Nehale Lya Mpingana (died 1908), King of Ondonga, defeated the settlers of the Dorsland Trek in 1886, and German colonial forces at Fort Namutoni in 1904

Samuel Maharero (1856-1923), Paramount Chief of the Herero people, led the uprisings against German colonialism that resulted in the Herero and Namaqua War of 1904-1907

Hendrik Witbooi (1830-1905), king of the Nama people and fighter against the colonial oppression of the German Empire in German South-West Africa

Jacob Morenga (1875-1907), successor of Hendrik Witbooi as Nama Chief, used the fortress of ?Khauxa!nas to wage a guerrilla war against the Schutztruppe of Imperial Germany

Mandume Ya Ndemufayo (1894-1917), last king of the Kwanyama, led his people into battles with British, Portuguese, and South African colonial forces

Iipumbu Ya Tshilongo (1875-1959), King of the Uukwambi and strong nationalist, resisted European cultural influence exercised via the establishment of mission stations and administrative outposts

Anna Mungunda (1910s-1959), protester against the forced eviction from Windhoek’s Old Location in 1959. Set the car of a high-ranking administrator alight and was shot dead in response.

Hosea Kutako (1870-1970), Paramount Chief of the Herero and petitioner to the United Nations for an independent Namibia

In later years, several additional people have been declared national heroes, and buried here. These are:

Dimo Hamaambo (1932-2002), commander in the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia

Maxton Joseph Mutongulume (1932-2004), founding member of the Ovamboland People’s Congress and long-term SWAPO functionary and Central Committee member

Markus Kooper (1918-2005), petitioner to the United Nations

Mose Penaani Tjitendero (1943-2006), first speaker of National Assembly

Richard Kapelwa Kabajani (1943-2007), former cabinet minister and ambassador to Cuba

John Pandeni (1950-2008), prisoner of Robben Island and later Namibian Minister

Peter Tsheehama (1941-2010), People’s Liberation Army of Namibia commander and Chief of Namibian Intelligence

John ya Otto Nankudhu (1933-2011), People’s Liberation Army of Namibia commander and Robben Island inmate

Frederick Matongo (1946 or 1947-2013) Lieutenant Colonel of the Namibian Defence Force, early participant of the Namibian War of Independence

Andrew Intamba (1947-2014), first director of the Namibia Central Intelligence Service, and Namibian ambassador to Egypt and

Gerson Veii (1939-2015), the first opposition party member (SWANU) to be accorded a heroes’ burial

Mansudae Overseas Projects, a company from North Korea, was given a Namibian Dollar 60 million contract to build the 732-acre monument. The contract was awarded without any competitive tendering process, and eventually, the construction cost doubled. Namibia’s corruption watchdog Insight Namibia is on record as criticizing this non-transparent process.

The statue of the Unknown Soldier resembles the physical features of Sam Nujoma, Namibia’s founding president. (ANI)