Vaalgras veteran receives a home

23 Dec 2014 16:20pm
VAALGRAS, 23 DEC (NAMPA) – A 74-year-old veteran of the liberation struggle received a brand new three-bedroom house from the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs here at this southern village on Monday.
The green-coloured home of Martha Stephanus brightly dots the stark, clean and serene Vaalgras landscape. It is the second home handed over to a veteran in the //Karas Region since the inception of the initiative.
A festive community event with leaders from the region was held to celebrate the house handover. Present were chief Joel Stephanus of the Vaalgras Oorlam, former minister Willem Konjore, Berseba constituency councillor Dawid Boois and Keetmanshoop Rural constituency councillor Jims Christiaan.
The beneficiary gave gratitude to God and to the Swapo Party, particularly founding president Sam Nujoma of whom she said: “He must have been a son breastfed correctly … That’s why he went forth into the darkness with no fear, determined to bring peace and freedom to Namibia”.
Stephanus related that one of her sons - a young teacher at the time - and her 15-year old daughter left the country before independence to fight for Namibia. Her son died in exile while her daughter, Laurencia Stephanus now works as a senior liaison officer at the veterans’ ministry in Keetmanshoop. The daughter was instrumental in organising the handover event.
The gathering was highlighted by historic retellings of trials on the path to Namibia’s liberation, with Stephanus sharing how the Oorlam community was told by chief Stephanus in April 1975 that they all would join other Nama tribal chiefs in spurning the South African government and following Swapo.
Chief Stephanus on his part said the Oorlam, together with the Goliath clan of Berseba, the Bondelswarts of Warmbad, the Witboois of Gibeon, and others, agreed to join Swapo as they shared the same desire for freedom of the land.
“We did not fight for houses or money – these tokens of appreciation came later – we fought for the land of our forefathers,” chief Stephanus related.
Konjore told of young men in the Vaalgras community who had refused to join the South African army and who were jailed and tortured as a result.
“Those were dark days when we stared at the barrel of the gun here in Namibia; independence was not just war outside the country, but a battle every single day inside as well,” he said.
Boois called on the housing allocation programme to be sped up. He said some people die while waiting to be recognised as veterans. The former governor also said that the initiatives of the veterans’ ministry are open to abuse.
“My initial impression was that the ministry should have been temporary - that it should have done its work and close. But now, many of the initiatives are abused and there are people who did not fight for this country who are benefitting,” Boois charged.
The handover was rounded off with a meal and live “Langarm” music.