Trip to Cassinga within the spirit of Harambee

08 May 2016 13:40pm
WINDHOEK, 08 MAY (NAMPA) - The trip to Cassinga and Tchetequela villages in southern Angola went on course within the spirit of Harambee, Inspector-General of the Namibian Police Sebastian Ndeitunga says.
Cassinga was a Swapo transit camp established for Namibian refugees who fled the country due to harsh conditions inflicted on them by the then South African apartheid regime.
This camp accommodated mostly children, women and the elderly.
About 300 children, 294 women and 165 men died in Cassinga, while 200 people went missing when the South African Defence Force of the apartheid regime attacked Cassinga on 04 May 1978.
‘Vietnam’ was a Swapo military base in the Tchetequela village in the Cunene Province of Angola. Over 100 people perished there.
This year, about 300 mourners and survivors of Cassinga and Vietnam embarked on a challenging journey by road to visit the mass graves and pay tribute to those who have perished.
This was the first time in 38 years since the Cassinga massacre that a group of survivors returned to those places.
Ndeitunga, who was part of the survivors who went on a trip to Cassinga and Vietnam, described the journey to Angola as challenging, but fruitful.
“When people are united for one purpose, disciplined and well organised it is a true reflection of the spirit of Harambee,” he told Nampa upon arrival back from Angola on Saturday.
Harambee is a Swahili phrase, which means 'Let's pull together’.
“Although some sections of the roads were challenging, we managed to hold hands and move together. We understood each other and accomplished the mission of paying tribute to the victims. Their blood waters our freedom,” he stated.
Ndeitunga took the opportunity to thank the people of Angola and Cuba who commemorated the event with the Namibian mourners and survivors.
Several officials from the Cuban and Angolan embassies and other high-ranking Angolan officials attended the event held on Wednesday, 04 May, Cassinga Day – an official public holiday in Namibia to commemorate the lost lives.
“These are the people (Cubans and Angolans) who travelled a long journey together with Namibians during the dark days of the liberation struggle. If it were not for Cubans and Angolans, we would not have survivors of Cassinga and Vietnam. These people helped and rescued us during the dark days of our history.”
The attack on Cassinga and Vietnam took place at the time the Swapo Party leadership and the Western Contact Group, which was made up of France, Britain, West Germany, the United States of America and Canada, were busy concluding negotiations for Namibia's independence at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York.
After the attack, the Cuban government took thousands of Namibian children, most of them survivors of the Cassinga massacre, to study on that Caribbean island so they get a proper education to enable them to come back and develop their country.
Today, they are helping develop the country as teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers, journalists, and statisticians, among others.
The Cuban intervention in Angola through the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1988 is marked as the turning point in Namibia’s history.
Cuban internationalist forces fought side-by-side with the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) fighters during the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola, where they defeated the South African regime.
This led to the withdrawal of the South African forces in Namibia and eventually Namibia’s independence in 1990.