Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s mission to Namibia was timely!

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Comrade B. F. Bankie pictured with Chairman Omali holding a copy of Pan Africanism: Strengthening the Unity of Africa and its Diaspora

Thank you for the opportunity of reporting on the visit of Chairman Omali Yeshitela to Namibia, which took place May 5 to 12, 2006.

I would like to contextualize the visit of Chairman Omali Yeshitela. The Nama/Herero genocide took place in the territory then called South West Africa, now called Namibia, in 1904. The Marcus Garvey movement, The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) opened an office in Luderitz on the coast of South West Africa in 1921. A year later an office was opened in Windhoek, the present day capital of Namibia.

The membership of the South West Africa Branch of the UNIA in 1921-22 reads like a roll call of distinguished Namibian nationalists. These were the persons who took a stand against German colonialism. Garveyism united the different ethnic groups in the area for the first time in a common struggle against European colonialism.

One of those inspired by Garveyism was Sam S. Nujoma, Founding President of Namibia, who remains as President of the ruling party in Namibia – The South West Africa Peoples Organisation (SWAPO).

Since 1999, there have been a number of distinguished Pan Africanists who have visited Namibia. One of the first of these was Runoko Rashidi.

The visit of Omali Yeshitela to Namibia was intensive with speaking engagements at the University of Namibia (UNAM), at the International University of Management (IUM) and at the Polytechnic of Namibia. He also spoke to two smaller groups at the offices of the National Youth Council (NYC) and at the Polytechnic of Namibia.

In addition, Chairman Omali Yeshitela had meetings with the Founding President of Namibia, Sam S. Nujoma, with the Prime Minister, the Rt. Honorable Nahas Angula, and with the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo.

The three topics addressed at the tertiary education institutions were: the relevance of Pan Africanism in a modern society; the importance of Pan Africanism; and the importance of African identity for higher education institutions.

At the meeting of the smaller group, at the Polytechnic, Omali Yeshitela spoke to the “role of education in achieving economic emancipation in Africa.”

At the private meetings Chairman Omali briefed leaders in Namibia on the forthcoming International Tribunal scheduled for Berlin, Germany. In this connection, Omali Yeshitela met with the Paramount Chief of the Hereros, Chief Kauima Riruako, who has spearheaded the campaign for reparations for the 1904 Genocide. Chief Riruako expressed an intention to participate in the Berlin International Tribunal for Reparations.

Chairman Omali also obtained one of the first copies available of the book entitled “Pan Africanism Strengthening the Unity of Africa and its Diaspora.” Contained in this book are the proceedings of the 17th All Africa Students’ Conference, which took place at the University of Namibia in May 2005. It is available from elmarie@bookden.com.na.

The visit of The Chairman to Namibia was significant as it acted as a Pan African bridge uniting Africa with the North American Diaspora. It is important to increase the volume of these interactions, which should be on a two-way basis.

The Pan African movement in Namibia is young and fragile, with an uncertain future. It needs to be carefully nurtured. Bearing that in mind, Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s mission to Namibia was timely and moved towards the development of the African Socialist International.

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