Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Sam Nujoma, founding president of Namibia and president of the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO)
During his speaking tour in Namibia in May 2006, Chairman Omali Yeshitela met on Namibian national television with Samuel Nujoma, the Founding President of Namibia and the founder and current president of the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO), the revolutionary organization that led the struggle for independence in the 1970s. Chairman Yeshitela and President Nujoma spoke about the conditions in Africa and the need for African unity to overturn these conditions. Chairman Yeshitela spoke with the Founding President about support from SWAPO for the International Tribunal on Reparations for African People to be held in Berlin, Germany in June 2007. President Nujoma readily expressed the support of SWAPO for the tribunal.
President Nujoma: Welcome to Namibia, Brother, your second home.
Chairman Omali: My first home!
President Nujoma: Yes, your first home, you are correct. It gives us pleasure and strength to meet you and hear you on our media. We would like to discuss with you some matters of common interest and see how we can best serve the African people here and those in the diaspora. I believe that the strengthening of the African people on the Continent and those in the diaspora will come about if we work together with a clear purpose of ensuring that Africa and its people will never again be colonized or be enslaved by any nation.
We are here to defend our rights, our properties and our Continent and to insure that our people will not be the poorest on earth. This continent is very rich in minerals and in agriculture. Africa could feed the world if it could be developed to the extent of, say, Switzerland, where every inch of the soil is utilized. Even the mountains are cultivated. They put soil there and they grow vegetables and fruits, which they consume from the bounty.
We have this huge continent that is practically too empty. Take the size of Namibia. Namibia is the size of Germany, France and some British Isles put together, but with only a population of 1.8 million people. We have minerals. We are sitting in poverty on top of the richest minerals, ranging from uranium, diamonds, gold, copper and zinc, and we have agriculture production. Talk about fish and fish products! All of these are now exploited in raw form. Our idea now is to manufacture and develop our products. We want to sell our products in ready-to-use form, and put an end to the exploitation by foreigners that continues up to this very moment.
We are looking to improve education and technological knowledge especially in the fields of engineering, geology, marine biology and agricultural. Once we have people trained in these fields we will be able to utilize the resources that we have here, and to share them with our neighbors in other regions, with the African continent as a whole and with our brothers and sisters in the diaspora.
People don’t respect weak people. If we are weak certainly nobody will respect us, so we have to make sure that we acquire strength. Our strength can only come through unity of purpose and action.
Once again we welcome you to the Republic of Namibia.
Chairman Omali: I would like to offer my profound thanks to you, Comrade President. The Central Committee of our Party extends its best wishes to you and also has a tremendous respect for your accomplishments. Although it has been said that the most difficult period of struggle is after independence, we recognize your tremendous work in winning the independence for our Namibia. We respect that tremendously. When we come here and have an opportunity to speak to you we do so with great humility. As a Party and as a Movement we express our humility, our great respect and our tremendous love for you, for what you have done for our Namibia.
Comrade President, I want to agree with you about the need for a practicing unity among African people around the world. The primary work of our Party for the past few years has been to build an international organization of African people to create that unity and to drive with that unity. Our experiences and our investigation reveal to us that the African Revolution has run into severe limitations when it is fought within the borders that have been imposed on us as a people.
“[T]he SWAPO party will fully support this movement because crime and genocide has been committed against the people of Africa, those on the Continent and those in the diaspora. ”
We believe tremendously in the need for unity. I want to tell you about a project in which we are involved. We were part of a meeting in London in March that consolidated a process to initiate a World Tribunal on Reparations for African People worldwide. It currently involves Africans who are from the U.S., England, France, Germany, Holland, Israel, as well as from the Democratic Republic of Congo and from about eight West African states. We have a meeting in Paris next month where we will enlarge that effort to include Africans from around the world. We now have commitments from Africans from South Africa, for example, and there will be more.
Comrade President, the objective of this tribunal is to put imperialism on trial for the crimes against African people around the world. We want to attempt to use this tribunal to actually quantify the amount of value that has been stolen from Africa and African people. We think that this tribunal can help to create a common consciousness and trajectory among Africans from around the world.
We will bring experts in many fields, historians, economists, jurists, etc. to this tribunal. It will be held in Berlin and we call it “returning to the scene of the crime,” referring to the 1884-85 Berlin Conference that divided Africa as it is currently divided. We think that these experts can help us to demonstrate that reparations are due to African people.
We can show that Europe itself was built off slavery and colonialism. We can demonstrate that Africans need not be in the position of going to Europe hat in hand, begging for resources that actually belong to us.
We believe that this can help to recreate the sense of solidarity that existed when SWAPO had to take up arms here, and when there were many other liberation forces and tremendously significant movements of African people here and around the world. That seems to be one of the things that’s missing today. We seem to lack a commonness of purpose among Africans worldwide, even though I think we’re moving in that direction again.
I wanted to inform you of that project so that that you could be aware of it and know some of the things that are happening to try to bring about the unity of which you’ve just spoken.
President Nujoma: Yes, the SWAPO party will fully support this movement because crime and genocide has been committed against the people of Africa—those on the Continent and those in the diaspora. If we don’t write our own history, if we don’t struggle, of course, nobody will do it for us.
Chairman Omali: Comrade President, we would hope that you would consider and even inform us, perhaps at some later date, if it is possible for you to consider doing a tour of the United States at least and perhaps of England as well. We think that African people would draw a great inspiration from your presence and from the wisdom that you could impart to us.
President Nujoma: Yes, I would be delighted to do so, when time allows me as the president of SWAPO. I can always find time to attend some of these very important events. Also, we would like to host this kind of event, in a big way, on the liberated soil of Namibia. Definitely SWAPO can facilitate something like this. It could go on all week, going from one region to another to inform the Namibian people what went wrong, how the imperialists colonized us, how they shipped our people across the ocean, how many of our people were killed.
We could show the movie Roots, for example. I showed it to my family, my wife and my children. They just started crying, when they watched Roots. These are things we need to do now because we see aggression taking place all over the world. If we don’t prepare to defend ourselves and our rights, nobody will