Mourners testified that the late Theo-Ben Gurirab was a nationalist committed to the development of the rest of Namibia and not his hometown of Usakos alone, silencing his critics who, through his life time, questioned why he did not flex his political muscles to develop his home-town.
The struggle icon was laid to rest over the weekend and has been declared a national hero with testimonies of his selfless sacrifices pouring in across the country’s political divide and the international community.
“Most people questioned why my uncle did not use his political influence to develop Usakos and I even asked him this. My uncle said, I fought for the liberation of this country as a whole and we elected a government with policies,” said family relative Tsudisa !Gonteb to a dozen of mourners from different countries.
He was speaking at a memorial service at parliament gardens where his remains lay in state.
President Hage Geingob also said Gurirab would want the leadership to “deal with this vexing question with patience, tolerance, and focus on sustainable solutions,” further reflecting him more as a national than regional leader.
Founding President Sam Nujoma summed him as a “Father of Namibian diplomacy” who personified the art of diplomacy more than any other among his contemporaries.
“A tried and tested cadre, I appointed him as our first foreign affairs minister and our second prime Minister. He was a genuine freedom fighter from humble beginnings and he served his country well,” said Nujoma.
Taking to the podium, president of the official opposition party, McHenry Venaani gave a touching testimony describing the late Gurirab as “an honourable guest” who walked with honour.
In a veiled attack against his critics, Venaani said the struggle veteran never opted to use “his public office for personal wealth”.
“He was a friend and an adversary. He was a colossus who strode proudly in our history books,” said Venaani.
The Swapo party Secretary General, Sophia Shaningwa said Gurirab had sacrificed a better part of his youth for the liberation of Namibia saying no word can best describe “the giant that was the man who lies here,” before bursting into song of faring him well.
On behalf of his children, Dr. Theo-Ben Kandetu gave a very touching testimony of a father they knew at home, away from the pomp and pressures of public office.
He said, “To us he was just dad. He truly epitomised the true meaning of a hero.”
President of the United Nations Secretary General Assembly, Miroslav Lajeak said Gurirab was a global citizen who fulfilled his purpose.
He was said to be in the process of piecing-up a book, and the minister of international relations and cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah pleaded with those that have the material to see to it that it is finished.
Speaker for the National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi, who took the reins from Gurirab as speaker, gave a graphic detail of how they had escaped into exile in 1962 via Zimbabwe’s small town of Plumtree, then still known as Rhodesia.
Gurirab would then study in the United States after which he was recommended for negotiating Namibia’s cause at the UN where, according to Katjavivi, “He articulated matters calmly” and would see to it that women were incorporated into the PLAN fighting units inspite of criticism from commanders.
Among some of his noted accomplishments after independence, Gurirab served as Prime Minister, National Assembly Speaker, served at the UN General Assembly presiding over the Millennial Development Goals, drafted the constitution and in 2007 initiated the children’s parliament.
“He was a warm, approachable, thoughtful man. His legacy will forever form part of the history of this country,” said Katjavivi.
Meanwhile it was reported that soon after the death of Gurirab, a sudden downpour of rain was witnessed with temperatures dropping to below usual levels which bore testimony to the effect that a son of the soil had indeed departed.