18 Dec 2013 18:20pm
OPUWO, 18 DEC (NAMPA) The Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Hilma Nicanor on Monday unveiled the tombstone of Ndapandula Shaanika, a veteran of the Namibian liberation struggle, in the Kunene Region.
The unveiling of the tombstone is part of a national project of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs to construct and erect tombstones at all marked and unmarked graves of war veterans countrywide.
Nine tombstones are planned for the Kunene Region.
Shaanikas tombstone was erected at the Ovinjange village, about 15 kilometres north of Opuwo.
Speaking at the occasion, Nicanor said the rich history which culminated in the liberation of Namibia must continue to be told so that the current and future generations of Namibia can appreciate the hardship and dedication of their countrymen and women, who committed their lives to the achievement of freedom, nationhood and sovereignty.
The Ministry of Veterans Affairs is mandated, amongst others, to ensure that the history of the national liberation struggle is kept alive.
This is done through different programmes/activities such as research and documentation, identification of sites and the erection of monuments, collection and preservation of artefacts as well as the erection of veterans tombstones, she noted.
Nicanor delivered a speech on behalf of Veterans Affairs Minister, Dr Nickey Iyambo, who was officiating at a similar unveiling ceremony in the //Karas Region at the same time.
The deputy minister noted that since the commencement of the funeral assistance programme in April 2011, her ministry has been inundated with funeral requests, but the budget allocation during the first two financial years was simply not sufficient to burry and also erect tombstones.
As such, the ministry experienced a backlog that is now being attended to from the current financial year (2013/2014), said Nicanor.
The ministry has budgeted N.dollars 4 million for 239 individual and mass graves to be marked with tombstones, a process which started this year.
These graves comprise of 15 graves of commanders of the liberation struggle in Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Oshana and Omusati regions, 47 individual graves of unknown soldiers and 15 mass graves of unknown plan fighters in the Ohangwena Region, and 162 graves of registered veterans countrywide since the establishment of the ministry.
The entire tombstone erection project is expected to be completed by 31 March 2014.
The event was witnessed by the governor of the Kunene Region, Josua /Hoebeb, Opuwo Mayor Tuarungua Kavari, and community members from the Ovinjange village and surroundings.