Namibia Independence Celebration

Namibia Independence Celebration

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Namibia
March 21, 1990
Type: Photograph
Coverage in Africa: Namibia
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
At the Namibian independence celebration on March 21, 1990 (from left): Herman Toivo ja Toivo, Secretary-General of the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO); George M. Houser, Executive Director Emeritus of the American Committee on Africa; Theo-Ben Gurirab, SWAPO Permanent Observer to the United Nations; and Tilden Le Melle, Chair of The Africa Fund. Toivo ja Toivo, with Sam Nujoma, was a co-founder of SWAPO in 1960. In 1966 Toivo was one of 35 Namibian activists who was arrested and held for a year in Pretoria before being brought to trial. In February 1968, he and eight others were sentenced to 20 years under South Africa's Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967, which had been made retroactive to 1962. (A number of others were sentenced to lesser terms.) Toivo was released in 1984 after serving 16 years, some on Robben Island. After his released, he went into exile and became SWAPO's Secretary-General. Toivo returned to Namibia in the period prior to the November 1989 independence election. SWAPO won 57% of the vote and Toivo became Minister of Mines and Energy. Theo-Ben Gurirab served for 14 years as SWAPO's Chief Representative to the United Nations and, later, as its Permanent Observer. From 1986 to 1990, he was SWAPO's Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Gurirab became independent Namibia's first Foreign Minister. George Houser was a founder of the American Committee on Africa in 1953 and served as Executive Director from 1955-1981. In September 1958, Houser received a package mailed from Cape Town with a copy of the book Treasure Island. Embedded in the book was a letter and a ten-minute taped message to the United Nations Fourth Committee from Toivo, then president of the Ovambo National Congress, an organization of Namibians working in the Cape. After much debate, the tape was played in the Forth Committee, setting a precedent. [Note: Toivo's name is often spelled Toivo ya Toivo.]
Used by permission of Africa Action, successor to the American Committee on Africa and The Africa Fund.
Collection: Private collection of Jennifer Davis