‘don't Give Up Our Land To Foreign Occupiers’: Ithete

20 Aug 2013 07:40
By Maggy Thomas

WINDHOEK, 20 AUG (NAMPA) - The struggle for the liberation of Namibia from the South African apartheid regime robbed the country of many sons and daughters, brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers who fought selflessly for their motherland.
Many Namibians gave up their youth and the comfort of their homes to venture into the uncertainty of battles towards their nation's self-determination.
With little, and at times inadequate, resources, they fought long and bitter battles, but eventually managed to defeat an overwhelmingly superior enemy.
Some of these heroes are pioneers of the struggle for the liberation of the Land of the Brave.
On 26 August, Namibians countrywide will pay homage to the men and women who fought bravely for the liberation of their motherland.
Today, 23 years after Independence, some of those heroes and heroines are still with us to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the battle of Omugulugwombashe which took place on 26 August 1966.
One of these brave warriors is Major Lameck Iithete, a pioneer and former People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) fighter who fought for Namibia's liberation.
Nampa caught up with the former freedom fighter at his home in Okahao in the Omusati Region, where he shared his experience in the liberation struggle.
“Old age is not good. Every day you wake up with less energy,” Ithete said jokingly while trying to stand up when this news agency arrived at his home.
Ithete, now 86 years old, says the battle at his former base Omugulugwombashe, where the first shots were exchanged between PLAN fighters and the South African security forces, was bitter. Some of his comrades lost their lives, amongst them Angula Tshoonyeka, 'Akapeke' and 'Kashuku', amongst others, Ithete remembered.
“May their souls rest in eternal peace. They fought for the liberation of Namibia. They stood firm as Namibian patriots in their conviction that Namibia should be free,” he firmly said.
Ithete joined the Owambo People's Organisation (OPO) in 1959 and subsequently became a member of the Swapo-Party in 1960.
He was a member of the Swapo Executive Committee responsible for the mobilisation of the masses in the northern areas.
His involvement in political activities led to his expulsion from the Hansa Brewery in 1962.
His political activities started off with mobilisation, exhorting youngsters to flee the country to prepare for the armed struggle.
In carrying out his duties, Ithete incurred the wrath of traditional authorities and the police. In spite of this, he remained determined and committed in spreading the gospel of Swapo.
His determination was reinforced by the return of the first group of combatants from exile in 1965.
It was this group, led by the late Commander John Otto Nankudhu, that fought the battle of Omugulugwombashe in 1966.
Iithete was not at the base when it was attacked on 26 August 1966 as he had travelled to Ondangwa to consult with Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo on the letter brought by Leonard Fillemon Shuuya, alias 'Castro', indicating that the Omugulugwombashe Base was to be attacked on 24 or 25 August 1966.
He helped to organise the combatants and went into hiding where he stayed until his arrest in June 1969 at Otamanzi in the Omusati Region.
“It is true that the battle was bitter. We fought without proper guns, but with the belief that Namibia is ours. 'We were only equipped with six PPSH sub-machineguns and six pistols. The youth was on the forefront of this battle. This is how the war of the liberation struggle started,” he stated.
When Angola got its independence in 1974, the youth found the way paved by former President Sam Nujoma.
“They went straight into Angola following in his footsteps. They asked for guns to clean up the mess in their mother land. Our grandmothers and grandfathers were killed in 1978 in Cassinga and the Vietnam camps without committing any offence apart from running away from colonialism,' he indicated.
Cassinga and Vietnam were Swapo camps situated in southern Angola, where defenceless Namibians were murdered in cold blood by the South African forces.
Ithete took the opportunity to praise Nujoma for carrying them on his back 'like a strong pillar' during the liberation struggle.
“Nujoma is a God-fearing man who works with God, he even introduced the policy of national reconciliation which means those who sided with the colonial forces only did it because of poverty, they never knew what they were doing. We must praise him along with his comrade, President Hifikepunye Pohamba. I was the one given the responsibility to introduce OPO in Ongandjera, until now I carry Swapo on my shoulders given to me by Nujoma, Pohamba and Mishake Muyongo. It is only that Muyongo got cold feet and made a U-turn,” he said.
Despite the peace and stability that Namibia is enjoying today, Major Ithete expressed his concern over the future of the country.
“I pray that God changes Namibians’ way of behaving. We liberated the country but we still have evil acts such as passion killing and baby dumping. We did not fight for killing, but for peace in our country,” he indicated.
Ithete's two sons never returned from exile as they lost their lives during the liberation struggle.
“I am 86 years old now, our days are over (numbered) and I am urging the nation not to give up our land to foreign occupation. Let us stay in unity and love each other,” he concluded.
Major Ithete was born on 16 June 1927 at Okahao in the Omusati Region.