Bittersweet 30-year celebrationof Walvis Bay’s reintegration

Wilfred Immanuel

Former Walvis Bay mayor Wilfred Immanuel says the 30th celebration of the town’s reintegration with Namibia in 1994 will be a bittersweet moment without president Hage Geingob, who died this past weekend.

Immanuel, who was on the reintegration committee in 1994, says he would have wanted Geingob to experience the joyous remembrance when South Africa transferred Walvis Bay to Namibia after midnight between 28 February and 1 March 1994.

The town’s residents will always be grateful for this, he says.

When Namibia became independent on 21 March 1990, South Africa refused to relinquish control over Walvis Bay and the off-shore islands.

Only after increased international and local pressure, Walvis Bay and a string of offshore islands were finally reintegrated into Namibia at midnight on 28 February 1994.

“It is so sad to see somebody who has contributed to the reintegration not having the opportunity to witness this important occasion this year.

“Hage Geingob was here on that day, along with those who fought hard for this town to become part of Namibia. He never stopped checking up on us. He was always ready when we invited him to an event at Walvis Bay.

“When I was mayor, he always made a turn here when he visited the coast, or summoned us to Swakopmund to find out how the town is doing.

“This is truly a sad time to lose him, just as we were close to this milestone. He would have enjoyed seeing us celebrate,” Immanuel says.
Another former mayor, King Mandume Muatunga, who was 22 at the time of the reintegration, says he would have wanted Geingob to join the Walvis Bay community.

“I was the Walvis Bay Swapo Party Youth League secretary at the time and on the organising committee. It was the first time that we saw our leaders, including Hage Geingob, at Walvis Bay.

“It was a great occasion accompanying the leaders on foot through the streets of Walvis Bay on 28 February from the late Nathanael Maxuilili’s house.

“I think he would have been so happy to share that 30th year moment with us next month,” he says.

Former Erongo regional Swapo Party Elder’s Council secretary Jack Brown shares the same sentiments.

“I cannot explain the feeling of having our leaders at Walvis Bay on the day before reintegration. President Hage Geingob had a big part to play in the event of fighting for Walvis Bay alongside his comrades.

“It is sad that he cannot be here next month, but God has His plans and leaves us in the hands of the ones he thinks are capable to carry on.
“We still have president Nangolo Mbumba, who also played an instrumental part in that event,” he says.

Walvis Bay mayor Trevino Forbes says although he was too young to understand the situation at the time and lived at another town, he appreciated the stories he heard from former mayors and Mbumba.

“I heard the stories about the events of that day. I could see that the experience was really personal to them.

“As we celebrate, we must look at what it meant to those who fought for our independence. Let us respect those whose blood waters our freedom and support them in whatever they do for the sacrifices they have made.

“Together we can see Walvis Bay grow to the Dubai of Africa. Being part of Walvis Bay means a lot,” he says.

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