Nujoma notes unveiledBy: CATHERINE SASMAN
THE new N$10 and N$20 banknotes featuring the face of founding President Sam Nujoma were launched at the independence celebrations at Mariental yesterday. The removal of Chief Hendrik Witbooi from the two notes has caused some controversy, particularly in southern Namibia.
There were also threats from a small party, the United Party of Namibia (UPM) under Piet Junius, to boycott the independence celebrations in protest of the removal of Witbooi’s picture from the banknotes.
But President Hifikepunye Pohamba said the replacement does not in any way diminish the contributions of Captain Witbooi to the anti-colonial struggle.
“Indeed, Captain Hendrik Witbooi will forever remain one of the highly celebrated heroes of the anti-colonial resistance in our history. This change of portrait should, therefore, be viewed in the spirit of continuing to honour and recognise outstanding Namibians for their contributions to our society. Dr Sam Nujoma is one such citizen. That is why he is being honoured in this way,” said Pohamba.
Pohamba went on to say: “Our banknotes convey and express our identity as a nation.”
Nujoma accepted the honour “on behalf of my comrades in arms of Swapo and the Namibian people”.
The decision to place Nujoma on the two bank notes was made by Cabinet, to, in Pohamba’s words, pay homage to the heroes and heroines of the anti-colonial struggle for independence. But, questions are asked why other heroes such as Hosea Kutako or Samuel Maharero could not be considered for the honour.
Since the announcement by the Bank of Namibia that Witbooi’s face on the N$10 and N$20 notes would be replaced by that of Nujoma, The Namibian’s SMS pages have been inundated by readers who were not happy with the decision.
Some said that this was the start of the complete removal of the anti-colonial hero from Namibia’s banknotes.
“I strongly disagree with Dr Sam Nujoma’s face replacing Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi’s on the Namibian currency. We have honoured the founding father enough. He has the statue for him at the Heroes’ Acre [the unknown soldier]. Yes, we all know it’s him. His face is on the N$10 coin, a stadium is named after him and even streets. We have nothing that remind us of Kaptein Witbooi, besides his face on our currency,” one SMS reads.
Others say that the removal diminishes the contributions made by Witbooi and his people and accuse Hardap Governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa of betraying her ancestors for allowing the launch of the new notes in her region.
The new banknotes will hit the streets in May.
Other notes – N$50, N$100, and N$200 – will retain the face of Hendrik Witbooi.
Pohamba said the new banknotes were necessitated by the need to incorporate state-of-the-art security features to prevent forgery.
But those opposed to the move ask why the security features could not be improved without replacing the photo.
The Namibian dollar became legal tender in Namibia on September 14 1993.