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His Excellency Dr Samuel Daniel Sam Nujoma (Namibia)

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in

His Excellency Dr Samuel Daniel Sam Nujoma (Namibia) Awarded for:
His opposition to the then government of apartheid South Africa. He led forces that fought alongside South African freedom fighters and posed a formidable challenge to the oppressive regimes in the Southern African region. The Founding Father of a free Namibia continues to be a great source of inspiration.
Profile of His Excellency Dr Samuel Daniel Sam Nujoma

His Excellency Dr Samual Daniel Sam Nujoma was born on 12 May 1929 at the Etunda village, Omusati Region in the north-western part of Namibia. He is the first born in a family of 11. He is the founding President of the Republic of Namibia.

In 1949 Nujoma went to live in Windhoek with his uncle Hiskia Kondombolo. In Windhoek he started working for the South African Railways (SAR). At this period, he attended adult night school at St. Barnabas in the Windhoek Old Location. He further studied for his Junior Certificate through correspondence at the Trans-Africa Correspondence College in South Africa.

With a deep passion for politics and yearning to see his people free from the restricted pass law system and confined according to ethnic groupings, Dr Nujoma resigned from the SAR in 1957 at the age of 29. He did so with the purpose of devoting his time to politics.

In 1959, he was elected Leader of the Owambo People’s Organisation, which aimed at ending the then contract system and ending the South African colonial administration by placing South West Africa under the United Nations (UN) Trusteeship system. Through this, Dr Nujoma petitioned the UN in the late 50s – together with Chief Hosea Kutako, Samuel Witbooi, Theophilus Hamutumbangela, Toivo ya Toivo and others – demanding that the then South West Africa be placed under the UN Trusteeship system.

In March 1966, in a bid to test South Africa’s claims at the International Court of Justice at the Hague that Namibians in exile were free to return, Nujoma – accompanied by President Hifikepunye Pohamba – chartered a plane to Windhoek. On arrival at the airport, they were arrested and deported to Zambia on 21 March 1966.

Nujoma transported the first weapons that were to be used at launching of armed struggle on 26 August 1966 from Algeria via Egypt, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia into the country to Omugulugwombashe in Uukwaluudhi District in the Omusati region, which marked the launch of the armed struggle. Since Namibia’s independence, this event has been commemorated annually as part of Heroes’ Day on 26 August.

Nujoma stepped down on 21 March 2005, handing over the power to his successor, President Pohamba. He served as the leader of the Swapo Party for 47 years. He also stepped down as the first President of the Party on 30 November 2007, handing over the power to his successor.