Uazuva heinrich kaumbi was an intellectual giant. He was one of the few native organic intellectuals Namibia has produced.
Apart from his intellectual prowess, he embodied a particular sense of humanity. Kaumbi was not a man of many contradictions.
His constant thought was “what type of African personality” we aim to create, and the nature of the world we inhabit were always all things ‘pan-Africanism’ to him.
Influenced largely by Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness philosophy, Kaumbi honed his political acumen and sharp intellect at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, a university known for its political activism, where that giant of South African politics, Nelson Mandela, once studied law.
Kaumbi’s political organisational skills and organic intellectualism reached maturity before and during the aftermath of the historical conference on ‘The African Origin of Civilisation and the Destiny of Africa, which was organised by the Pan-African Students Society of the University of Namibia in May 1999 in Windhoek.
Before the conference, pan-Africanism, as a political philosophy, was largely confined as intellectual discussions in university lecture halls.
The conference was historical as it led to the creation of the Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia (Pacon).
It attracted high level African scholars and personalities and laid the basis for future strategic plans, actions and a course on pan-Africanism in Namibia.
The next decade saw increasing activities concerning pan-Africanism, both at Pacon and in geo-specific spaces in Namibia.
At Pacon, Kaumbi inspired the production of a contentious movie, ‘Where Others Wavered’, based on the autobiography of Namibia’s first president, Sam Nujoma.
He once expressed the desire to document his experiences by writing a memoir about the entire project.
The creation of Pacon and the ‘Where Others Wavered’ movie were his most realised cherished dreams.
Kaumbi demonstrated skill as a bridge builder and community diplomat, particularly evident in his connections with the Ovaherero Traditional Authority, notably during the era of the late chief Vekuii Rukoro.
In addition, he showcased his analytical writing abilities.
I still have a copy of the April 2004 issue (No 428) of New African, where he contributed to a feature article titled ‘Namibia: Land Reform Moves Into the Fast Lane’.
With his characteristic eloquence, he wrote, “The night of 25 February 2004 will go down in Namibian history as a watershed moment.
“Speaking on behalf of the Namibian government in a special live TV and radio broadcast, the prime minister, Theo-Ben Gurirab, informed the nation that the government had decided to accelerate the land reform process by way of expropriation.”
On a personal note, after I was dismissed by then secretary general of Swapo, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, in 2012, Kaumbi reached out to me for a thoughtful discussion over a cup of coffee.
He was curious about my future plans. I mentioned the possibility of exploring legal avenues to address the situation.
In the realm of politics, he wisely advised, certain battles may not necessarily need to be waged in court taking considering what the future may entail.
Kaumbi did not necessarily want my name to be tainted by the, at times, unnecessary type of politics exercised by Swapo, which might inflict reputational damage.
I listened to his advice and it paid off immensely.
Kaumbi further suggested that I channel my efforts into crafting a business proposal.
Following his counsel, I successfully developed a proposal, leading to the establishment of Green Cycle Investments.
This venture specialised in waste tyre recycling and the construction of turnkey affordable housing projects in Namibia.
On a parting note, he pressed N$200 into my hand, almost as if affirming ‘a luta continua, comrade’.
Such was Uazuva’s generosity, a poignant reminder.
Finally, when narrating the history of pan-Africanism in Namibia, Kaumbi’s name should be mentioned alongside those who established the Universal Negro Improvement Association branch in Namibia, including chief Hosea Kutako, who embraced the philosophy of pan-Africanism.
He played a pivotal role in instilling the spirit of pan-Africanism in many individuals such as my late friend Chris Hatutale Hawala, and figures like Joshua Kaumbi, Ben Uugwanga, Mao Shaetonhodi, John Pangech, Richard Mbuende, Himuvi Mbingeneeko, Ivan Hijarunguru, Tjeripo Musutua, Herold Binda, Romeo Shiremo, Bernadus Swartbooi, Anne-Doris Hans-Kaumbi, Comrade King, Sakaria Iipumbu, Ndeulipula Hamutumwa, Mandela Kapere, Neville Andre Itope, and many others.
Long live the spirit of Uazuva Kaumbi!
- Henny H Seibeb is a dedicated pan-Africanist residing in Windhoek, Namibia.
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