As the nation come to terms and mourns the death of struggle icon, Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, the Vice President, Nangolo Mbumba has described him as man who was a “clean fighter” and had no political enemies.
News of the death of Dr. Gurirab hit the nation over the weekend after he passed on in a Windhoek Hospital and the The Villager took time to engage men and women who worked with him during and after the war of liberation.
Said V.P Mbumba, “He was a unique figure. He was unquestionably the most qualified diplomat we had when we were in exile until he was transferred to the office of the Prime Minister and later to the office of the Speaker. We are mourning, really.”
“He has done everything a person can do for his country. We are mourning for our own sake and not for his sake. We should celebrate his life. He did not have political enemies, he was a clean fighter and for that he had many people who admired him.”
Dr. Gurirab spent the last moments of his life in political retirement although his face appeared here and there on many occasions, and for V.P Mbumba, it was an honourable retirement.
Also speaking to The Villager, liberation war fighter and former minister of home affairs, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana said his name reached her ear in the trenches around the 1970s while his charisma and diplomatic prowess reinforced a sense of confidence among PLAN fighters that the struggle had a solid leadership at higher international platforms such as the United Nations.
“We became very disciplined; the way we are now just on account of some of these comrades. It’s very unfortunate that we are meant to save and leave at a certain point. Comrade Ben-Gurirab can not be replicated but what he has given is worth keeping, and emulating.”
“Some of us who were under the wings of such a gallant fighter felt at all times empowered and really consolidated that the struggle had leaders who knew what Namibia wanted and they knew how to get it. It’s only that probably the young generation do not understand where we come from but it’s for us to teach them, it’s for us to encourage them to fight the new battle for the economic emancipation of our country,” she said.
The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) expressed its sadness at what it called the early departure of a liberation icon.
SPYL informationation secretary Gerson Dumeni defined Dr. Gurirab as a custodian for the independence of Namibia: “As young people when our elders are departing in this manner, what we learn from them and what they are leaving us with is a legacy that we should embrace."
He defined Dr. Gurirab as having left a legacy of unity and who, among other things, will be remembered for drafting the Namibian constitution.
He was considered Namibia’s number one diplomat during the formative years, a founding minister for foreign affairs while both Presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba looked to him for advice on all international related matters.
V.P Mbumba added that Dr. Gurirab was instrumental in contacting the old South African regime at a time when some in the leadership were not sure such a move was worth the salt.
He was 80.
The ministry of international relations and co-operation under the auspice of minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah took the honour and presided over the opening of the Theo-Ben Gurirab lecture, carefully named in his honour on account of being independent Namibia’s first minister of foreign affairs.
The lecture series aims to inform the public on contemporary issues affecting the globe, from an international relations perspective.