OKAHAO, 15 MAY (NAMPA) - The Okahao Baobab Tree, where Apartheid South African forces committed atrocities against Swapo supporters during the liberation struggle, was officially inaugurated as a national heritage site on Tuesday.
Signifying the official opening of the site, the Chairperson of the Omusati Regional Council Tataati Shileka unveiled a plaque on behalf of the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Major-General Charles Namoloh.
Speaking at the inauguration, founding president Dr Sam Nujoma told those in attendance that innocent Namibians from the surrounding areas were brought to this tree where they were then tortured and killed by soldiers of the Apartheid colonial administration through hanging.
?This was done by the colonial forces in an attempt to instil fear into the communities, by threatening them to provide information on the whereabouts of the combatants of the People?s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), Swapo?s military wing,? Nujoma told the audience.
The former president pointed out that the Okahao Baobab tree was in fact declared a national heritage site by the National Heritage Council of Namibia (NHC) already on 01 September 2011.
?Being the only site with national heritage status in the whole of Ongandjera at the moment, it is important that this historic site and its important history is preserved,? said Nujoma.
He added that the preservation of the history of the Okahao Baobab Tree will enable future generations to link the site to local liberation war heroes such as the late Patrick Iyambo Lunganda, who was brave PLAN commander.
Nujoma, who is the patron of the Okahao Baobab National Heritage Site, said he believes that the occasion of the inauguration of the site was about uniting the people of Namibia and promoting the cultural heritage and identity of the nation.
The Okahao Baobab National Heritage Site comprises of a small camping site and Braai facilities, as well as a craft shop where locally-made crafts will be sold as part of an income-generating project initiated to the empower local community.
One of the survivors of the atrocities committed during Apartheid under the Okahao Boabab tree, Kamati Joel used the opportunity to tell the gathering of his experience of torture at the hands of colonial police officers.
Joel stated that many people, including himself and several relatives of Lunganda, suffered a series of tortures under the Okahao Baobab tree as from the launch of the Swapo military offensive at Omugulugwombashe in 1966 until the early 1970s.
He said some of the victims of torture were hanged to death from that tree, while others disappeared forever or were transferred as political prisoners to other detention centres elsewhere in Namibia or is South Africa.
Albertina Ileka, Onesmus Maharero, Jason Ekandjo, Paulina Timoteus, Josua Asino and Lunganda?s three siblings Shangheta, Cecilia and Lahia were introduced at the occasion as some of the survivors of atrocities committed under the Okahao Baobab tree.