CORRECTION: Hundreds join Ya Toivo for 90th birthday celebration

13 Sep 2014 19:00pm
ATT SUBS: Story corrects surname from Bizo to Bizos

Hundreds join Ya Toivo for 90th birthday celebration
WINDHOEK, 13 SEP (NAMPA) – Hundreds of people thronged the Independence Stadium in the capital on Saturday to celebrate the 90th birthday of Namibian liberation struggle icon Andimba Toivo ya Toivo.
The celebration was attended by President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Prime Minister Hage Geingob, Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings and Angola’s Governor of Huambo Province Kundi Paihama.
The crowd also included people from South Africa, Finland, the United State of America and Angola amongst others.
A colourful display of traditional dances greeted Ya Toivo as he came into the stadium for the celebration, while the Ndilimani Cultural Troupe and many local artists also entertained the gathering.
Speaker after speaker described Ya Toivo as a freedom fighter, strong person and an exemplary leader.
South African Advocate, George Bizos thanked Ya Toivo heartily for his selfless contribution to the independence of Namibia, as well as his indirect contribution towards the independence of other countries in Southern Africa.
Bizos is a prominent human rights lawyer who campaigned against apartheid in South Africa in the 1960's and represented in court prominent people such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ya Toivo and Tuhadeleni Kahumba Ka Ndola, amongst others.
On his part, Prime Minister Hage Geingob described Ya Toivo as a passionate and kind person.
He said Ya Toivo is a committed party cadre (Swapo Party), and he has played an active part also in the country’s struggle for economic emancipation.
Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings described Ya Toivo as a remarkable man who contributed immensely to Namibia’s liberation struggle.
He thanked the Namibian Government for also recognising Ya Toivo’s outstanding contribution towards the country's development post-independence.
Born on 22 August 1924 at Omangundu village in Oshana Region, Ya Toivo was a founding member of the Ovamboland People's Congress (OPC) in 1957 at the beginning of the anti-Apartheid movement.
Because of his political activities in support of Namibian independence, ya Toivo was arrested in 1966 by the South African racist colonial authorities.
During his trial in August 1967, Ya Toivo made a speech which was widely publicised thereafter.
“We are Namibians, and not South Africans. We do not now, and will not in the future, recognise your right to govern us; to make laws for us, in which we had no say; to treat our country as if it was your property and us as if you are our masters. We have always regarded South Africa as an intruder in our country. This is how we have always felt and this is how we feel now and it is on this basis that we have faced this trial,” he said then.
On 26 January 1968, he was sentenced by a Pretoria court to 20 years' imprisonment. He was incarcerated at Robben Island near Cape Town, where he spent most of his time isolated from his fellow countrymen.
After Namibia gained independence in 1990, he served as a Cabinet minister in various portfolios (Mines and Energy; Labour; and then Prisons) until his retirement from active public service in 2006.