Sally Kauluma – A Life Dedicated to Education and Independence

Sally Kauluma with her daughters, Nangula (right) and Nangado (left), and Nangado’s children Nelao and Marley. Photo: Contributed

Sally Joan Kauluma (formerly Sally Camp) arrived in Namibia in 1964 from the United States (US), her home country, with the aim of making a positive impact on people’s lives.

She began her journey as a teacher at St Mary’s Odibo near the Angolan border.

At Odibo, she taught several individuals who would later become key figures and freedom fighters in Namibia’s struggle for independence.

Among her students were notable personalities such as Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, former ambassador Tuliameni Kalomoh, ambassador Joel Kaapanda, Tuli Hiveluah, general Charles Namoloh, politician Jeremiah Nambinga, Joseph Asino, Andreas Amushila, Petrus Ndadi, and others.

Despite the reluctance of some of her fellow countrymen to associate or socialise with black individuals, Kauluma actively sought to connect with local people.

On one Saturday in 1968, she attended the birthday celebration of Johannes Ndeulita, the uncle of Jeremiah Nambinga.

Kaapanda was also present at the party.

Shortly after the trio’s arrival at Ndeulita’s homestead, South African Police officers arrived and insisted on taking Kauluma back to Odibo.

However, she adamantly refused to comply and get into the police vehicle.


The following Monday, the Bantu Commissioner, a South African representative in the region, visited Odibo and informed Kauluma that her visa to remain in Namibia would not be renewed.

She had only been granted a visa for one year, despite being married to a Namibian.

After spending several years in Namibia, Kauluma’s request for visa renewal was denied, with the South African government citing “fraternisation and support of the indigenous people” as the reason for the denial.

Her unwavering stance against racism often made those with prejudiced views uncomfortable.

As a white woman, she defied societal norms by embracing all people – regardless of their background, nationality, or ethnicity.

Despite her deep connection to Namibia, she reluctantly returned to her home country. However, Namibia remained her preferred homeland.

Before departing for the US, a young man, one of her former students, asked Kauluma to deliver a letter to his uncle, who was studying in the US at the time.

That young man was none other than the now retired bishop Shihala Hamupembe and the uncle to whom the letter was addressed was the late bishop James Kauluma, the first indigenous bishop of the Anglican diocese of Namibia (then known as the diocese of Damaraland), who became Kauluma’s husband.

In 1978, Kauluma returned to Namibia with her new husband and daughter, ready to resume her connection with the country she held dear.

Upon arriving in Namibia, she swiftly undertook responsibilities many women from her background would not even have considered.


She remained dedicated to supporting Namibia’s quest for independence, actively engaging in efforts aimed at securing the nation’s freedom.

Some of Kauluma’s notable interventions and contributions to the liberation struggle include managing operations aimed at improving the lives of freedom fighters both within and outside the country.

She ensured that young women who had been raped by South African soldiers, also known as omakakunya, received the medical and psychosocial support they required, ensuring charges are pressed against their perpetrators.

Kauluma and James closely collaborated with human rights lawyers such as Dave Smuts and Hosea Angula, who currently serve as a Supreme Court judge and deputy judge president, respectively.

Upon the release of political prisoners, including Ben Uulenga, Ruben Hamutengela, Willie Amutenya and others, Kauluma and her husband facilitated their smooth reintegration into society.

With funding mobilised by Swapo, they bought houses for released prisoners.

Alongside James, Kauluma dedicated herself to caring for the families of political prisoners, including the late Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, who was imprisoned on Robben Island.

Following the brutal killing of Immanuel Shifidi in November 1986 at a Swapo gathering in Windhoek, many individuals, including Elina Ndapuka, were viciously attacked by the South African army.

Unfortunately, Ndapuka was unable to receive medical care at the State Hospital.

Kauluma and James intervened, facilitating her access to medical treatment at the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek.

In 1982, a political prisoner named Malambo escaped from Windhoek Central Prison and needed to return to the Zambezi region to join Swapo before being recaptured by the South African army.

Kauluma and James, in collaboration with Jeremiah Nambinga, facilitated Malambo’s safe departure from Windhoek and ensured his secure journey to his destination.

Rauna Nambinga was confined to Swakopmund by the South African authorities and was not permitted to leave the area.

However, Kauluma and her husband discovered that the army typically did not search luxury cars leaving the area.

They facilitated her escape by arranging for her to travel in a luxury car up to the border with Angola, where she could then join Swapo in exile.

In 1988, Kauluma ensured that Timoteus Shikongo, who had been imprisoned and brutally attacked by the South African army on multiple occasions, could leave the country for exile.

She arranged for his flight tickets to Lusaka in Zambia.


Over the years, Kauluma has worked tirelessly to secure scholarships for young Namibians to study abroad and on the continent, enabling them to acquire the skills needed for the country’s development.

In his book ‘Death, Detention and Disappearance’, Smuts described Kauluma as the ‘erudite wife of bishop James Kauluma’.

He, along with first attorney general Hartmut Ruppel, Nico Bessinger, and Vicky Toivo ya Toivo were some of the pupils in Kauluma’s Oshikwanyama classes.

In her book ‘Comrade Editor’, The Namibian’s founding editor, Gwen Lister, mentioned she was a tenant of Kauluma and James in 1984.

She described Kauluma as a warm-hearted woman who had thrown her heart and soul into the Namibian way of life.

In 1981, in writing on behalf of the diocese to The Times in London about South Africa’s occupation of the country, Kauluma played a critical role in ensuring communication relayed the severity of the local situation as well as the need for more international support.

At the time, the diocese was actively making a case to the international community for Namibia’s independence.

Between 1978 and 1988, with James traveling widely, Kauluma assisted with critical communication to the various audiences of James’ meetings and speeches.

She also assisted Abisai Shejavali in writing critical Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) reports prior to dissemination to various people and institutions.

During the period between 1977 and 1988 some hospitals, parishes, clinics and schools were destroyed.

Working with the CCN, Kauluma was instrumental in helping displaced people to be resettled.

This includes when the Lutheran Church in Ovamboland lost its printing press which was bombed in 1982, and the Anglican diocese and seminary building at Odibo, which were bombed in the same year.

Kauluma played a critical role in assisting relatives and spouses of those imprisoned at Robben Island to visit their loved ones, such as the mother of the late Toivo ya Toivo and Kahumba’s wife.

She assisted James in compiling and publishing a study vociferously condemning the migrant labour contract system, which he had experienced first-hand.

All these efforts had a significant positive impact on Namibia and its people.

Sally died in the Lady Pohamba private hospital on 9 April 2024 and she was buried on Saturday 20 April 2024 at Ongula ya Netanga in the Oshikoto region, next to her husband James.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News