|A tribute to Peter Eneas Nanyemba Ndilimani Lyomukunda W?amupolo|
|Thursday, 15 April 2010 09:48|
IT is imperative at this point in time when Namibia celebrates its 20 years of independence and Swapo commemorates 50 years of existence, to find space to remember and pay tribute to those gallant sons and daughters of the land of the brave who selfishlessy contributed to the liberation struggle.
One such son is Peter Eneas Nanyemba.
Like many of his peers, Peter grew up in the north of Namibia herding cattle, while at the same time struggling to attend school. It was while working in Walvis Bay that Peter became aware of the harshness of the colonial and apartheid system, and the need to do something about it. He was inspired and encouraged by many who shared his vision of a free and independent Namibia.
In 1962, Peter decided to join others already abroad in order to wage the struggle from outside of Namibia. He briefly served as a Swapo representative in East Africa with a base in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. During the Tanga Consultative Conference, he was elected Secretary of Defence, a position he held until his tragic death on the 01 April 1983 in Lubango.
Posing for a moment, and while reflecting on the life of this great man, it is essential to relook at his achievements. The struggle for independence intensified from 1970 albeit the challenges of manpower and equipment shortages. Swapo freedom fighters began to make inroads into Namibia, mainly into the Caprivi Region, then known as the Eastern Front. Activities such as ambushes, mine laying and small scale attacks increased considerably. These events had a great moral effect on the population of Namibia and the international community at large.
The great moment then came, the collapse of the Portuguese colonial empire in Africa as a result of a military coup led by General de Spinola in Lisbon on the 25 April 1974. This event and subsequent others were turning points and opened up windows of opportunities for Swapo and other liberation movements in Africa.
Within a few months, thousands and thousands of young Namibian men and women fled Namibia via Angola to join Swapo and thus swelled the ranks of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) under the leadership of its Commander-in-Chief, President Sam Nujoma, with Peter as Secretary of Defence.
It was at this stage of the struggle that Peter began to play a crucial role in developing and organising PLAN into a real guerrilla fighting force. He was instrumental in arranging training and equipping PLAN. By 1975, PLAN was a force to reckon with. The Shipanga rebellion was an internal setback for both Swapo and PLAN. Again Peter played a pivotal role in winning the confidence of the youth to fight.
After Angola attained its independence from Portugal on 11 November 1975, Swapo moved its provisional HQs from Lusaka to Luanda in 1976. With the unwavering support from Angola, the Soviet Union, Cuba, the Socialist Block, and the international community, Swapo was well positioned to intensify the war of liberation inside Namibia, and finally bring that to its logical conclusion in 1989. Nanyemba and many others were not there as they all died during the liberation struggle. Today their blood waters our freedom.
In 1977, the first group of Soviet military advisors arrived, and in the same year a training centre was established in Lubango. This centre was known as the Tobias Hainyeko Training Centre (THTC). It was named after Tobias Hainyeko, the first PLAN commander who died in action in the Caprivi in 1968. Thousands of plan fighters were trained at this centre.
In 1977, a military council was reconstituted as the highest decision making body. Nanyemba was delegated by the Commander-in-Chief to chair this important body which met once a year to review the political military situation, progress of the war and remained chairman for about five years until the Commander-in-Chief rightly and as per requirement of both Swapo Constitution and PLAN manual took over.
From 1978, another training centre was set up west of Lubango. This centre was named Jumbo Training Centre (JTC) and the purpose for it was to train regular and semi-regular forces, in other words conventional warfare forces. By 1979, a first motorised infantry brigade (1 Bde) was up and running, and saw the action the following year in June (Operation smokeshell).
By 1981, another motorised infantry brigade was established, equipped and trained. All these brigades played very crucial roles in assisting (FAPLA) the Angolan Armed Forces in fighting UNITA bandits. From 1977, four military regions were created with complete structures and staff. These were Eastern, North Eastern, Northern and North Western. They were to be changed two years later into fronts. Each one of them was headed by two regional commanders, who in turn were answerable to the commander of the armed forces, who was Dimo Hamaambo.
In 1979, and as the war intensified, PLAN underwent a major overhaul. On the initiative of Nanyemba and under his personal supervision, PLAN General Staff (GS) was formed to coordinate and direct operations. The GS consisted of all necessary branches. Commander of the Armed Forces, Deputy, Political Commissar, Chief of Staff, Chief of Operations, Chief of Intelligence, Chief of Counter intelligence, Chief of Artillery and Anti Air defence, Chief of Engineers, Chief of Logistics, Chief of Medical Services, Chief of Communications and Chief of Administration.
The same was duplicated elsewhere mainly at fronts. These structures increased effectiveness and efficiency in the execution of missions, orders and instructions. Later the Operational Command HQ was established as an effective way of directing operations. The PLAN manual was also an important guiding tool. In the 80s, the administration of justice was established together with the military police (Provost) department to maintain law and order.
All these, and many other achievements were made, thanks to the foresightedness, vision and efforts of Nanyemba who wasted no time in making PLAN the effective and efficient fighting machine it was. He was always in the thick of things and at times at dangerous places. Like the salvaging of downed South African planes from the operational area, a risk exercise given the danger at that time.
This great son of the Namibian soil was a rare breed. How is Nanyemba to be remembered? He will always be remembered for his selfless dedication and commitment to the freedom of his motherland, for his exemplary leadership as a strategist and brilliant military tactician, a great organiser and political acumen. Nanyemba served the party and his people very well.
He could therefore be referred to as a Gladiator in the Roman Era; Cavalry commander in the Napoleonic campaigns; Brilliant great commander of the Von Nguyen Giap of Vietnam type; A Winston Churchill character in war; a great political and military leader SWAPO has ever had; a man of great respect, integrity and nation building; who will doubt the bravery and brilliance of Peter Eneas Nanyemba Ndilimani lyomukunda W’amupolo!
Ndilimani we pay our homage to you, your ideals, thus we continued to fight where you left until independence was achieved
Viva the ideals of Peter Nanyemba
Viva Ndilimani the great thinker and doer
Viva the immortal Nanyemba
A luta continua
A Vitoria e’ certa
Author: Ndaxu Namoloh ( Ho Chi Minh) is a former PLAN Chief of Staff and current Minister of Defence. He was head of the Swapo military team working with Untag and SADF/SAWTF to form a new defence force during the transition to independence.