Sam Nujoma

Sam Nujoma

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Samuel Daniel Shafiishuna Nujoma (born 12 May 1929) is a Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

n politician who was the first President of Namibia from 1990 to 2005. He led the South-West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) in its long struggle against South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

n rule and took office as President when Namibia obtained independence on 21 March 1990. He was subsequently re-elected in 1994 and 1999
Namibian presidential election, 1999
General elections were held in Namibia on 30 November and 1 December 1999 to elect a president and the National Assembly. Both votes were won by SWAPO, whose candidate, Sam Nujoma, was re-elected with over 76% of the vote.-Presidential election:...

, remaining in office until March 2005. He was President of SWAPO from its founding in 1960 until 2007.

Early life

Nujoma was born in the north of the country, at Etunda village in Ongandjera
Ongandjera is settlement near Okahao in the Omusati Region northern Namibia. Historically part of Ovamboland, Ongandjera is also a traditional kingship. It is the birthplace of Sam Nujoma, the country's first President. In 1917, South Africa stripped the rulers of seven kingships, including...

 the Omusati region of South West Africa now Namibia, which is part of the cultural area known as Ovamboland
Ovamboland was the name given by English-speaking visitors to the land occupied by the Ovambo people in what is now northern Namibia and southern Angola...


President of SWAPO

In 1960 he became the first President of the South-West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO), having co-founded its forerunner, the Ovamboland People's Organization, in the late 1950s. At the time South Africa administered the land under a policy of apartheid, in which the best resources were reserved for those classified white, while other Namibians were treated as inferior and forbidden from active participation in their country. After years of asking the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 to ensure the occupying power South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 released control of South West Africa, he authorized armed resistance in 1966. This began the Namibian War of Independence
Namibian War of Independence
See also South African Border War.The Namibian War of Independence, also known as the South African Border War, which lasted from 1966 to 1988, was a guerrilla war, which the nationalist South-West Africa People's Organization and others, fought against the apartheid government in South...

, which lasted 24 years.

During the struggle, Nujoma took the combat name "Shafiishuna", meaning "lightning", as the name was in his family on his father's side.

At first the South African military dealt with SWAPO while simultaneously being busy with military campaigns in other countries, but later suffered a serious setback at the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale
Battle of Cuito Cuanavale
The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1987/88 was an important episode in the Angolan Civil War . Between 9 September and 7 October 1987, the Angolan Army , in an attempt to finally subdue the Angolan insurgent movement UNITA in south-eastern Angola, was decisively repelled in a series of battles at the...

 which led to the independence of Namibia, as well as accelerating the end of South Africa's white-run apartheid regime.

President of Namibia

As head of SWAPO, Nujoma was unanimously declared president upon the victory of SWAPO in a United Nations-supervised election in 1989, and was sworn in by UN Secretary-General
United Nations Secretary-General
The Secretary-General of the United Nations is the head of the Secretariat of the United Nations, one of the principal organs of the United Nations. The Secretary-General also acts as the de facto spokesperson and leader of the United Nations....

 Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar y de la Guerra is a Peruvian diplomat who served as the fifth Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1, 1982 to December 31, 1991. He studied in Colegio San Agustín of Lima, and then at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. In 1995, he ran unsuccessfully...

 on 21 March 1990.

In 1992, Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 decided to stop drought relief to Namibia in response to the purchase of an expensive new presidential jet and two new VIP helicopters. The planes were bought just few weeks after Sam Nujoma had appealed to the international community for drought aid
In international relations, aid is a voluntary transfer of resources from one country to another, given at least partly with the objective of benefiting the recipient country....

Many years later, Nujoma is still being criticized for excessive luxury and perks he gets at the cost of Namibian state, that is applying for the status of least developed country.

In 1990 Nujoma initiated a plan for land reform
Land reform
[Image:Jakarta farmers protest23.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Farmers protesting for Land Reform in Indonesia]Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution,...

, in which land would be redistributed from whites
Whites in Namibia
White Namibians are people of European or Southern African birth or descent living in Namibia. Most white Namibians are Afrikaners, while some are descended from German, Portuguese, or English immigrants.- Distribution :...

 to blacks. Some 12% of the total commercial farmland in the country was taken away from white farmers and given to black citizens by 2007. However, according to a 1998 statement made by the Cabinet of Namibia "the agricultural base is too weak to offer a sustainable basis for prosperity" and 38% of Namibia's rural population continue to live beneath the poverty line as of 2010.

Nujoma was re-elected as President of Namibia in December 1994 with 76.3% of the vote. The constitution of Namibia
Constitution of Namibia
The Constitution of Namibia is the constitution of theRepublic of Namibia. Adopted in February 1990, a month prior to Namibia's independence from apartheid South Africa, it was written by an elected constituent assembly.-Preamble:...

 was changed to allow Nujoma to run for a third five-year term in 1999; this was justified on the grounds that he had not been directly elected for his first term, and the change applied only to Nujoma. He won the 1999 election with 76.8% of the vote. The constitution did not allow Nujoma to run in November 2004 for a fourth term, and there was not much enthusiasm even within SWAPO to change it again. Hifikepunye Pohamba
Hifikepunye Pohamba
Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba is the second and current President of Namibia. He won the 2004 and 2009 presidential elections overwhelmingly as the candidate of the South West Africa People's Organisation ruling party, taking office in March 2005. He has also been the President of SWAPO since...

, described by some as Nujoma's "hand-picked successor", was elected as the candidate for the presidential election during the SWAPO congress held on the 30 May 2004, defeating two other candidates, Nahas Angula
Nahas Angula
Nahas Gideon Angula is the current Prime Minister of Namibia. He entered into office on March 21, 2005, when his appointment was announced by new president Hifikepunye Pohamba during the latter's inauguration. Angula received a master's degree in education from Columbia University.Angula was...

 and Hidipo Hamutenya
Hidipo Hamutenya
Hidipo L. Hamutenya is a Namibian politician. A long-time leading member of the South West Africa People's Organization , Hamutenya was a member of the Cabinet of Namibia from independence in 1990 to 2004...

. The latter had been dismissed from his post of Foreign Affairs minister by Nujoma barely two days before the congress. Pohamba was elected with a large majority and was sworn in on 21 March 2005.


While Pohamba replaced Nujoma as the President of Namibia, Nujoma stayed on as President of SWAPO. There was speculation that he would be re-elected as SWAPO leader in 2007 and that he was planning to run for president again in 2009. In early October 2007, however, Nujoma said that he had no intention of seeking re-election as SWAPO President and would stand aside in favor of Pohamba, the Vice-President of SWAPO, later in the year, after 47 years as party leader. Pohamba was accordingly elected unopposed as SWAPO President on 29 November 2007 at a party congress. Nujoma said that he was "passing the torch and mantle of leadership to comrade Pohamba". The congress also decided to give Nujoma the title of Leader of the Namibian Revolution, in addition to his existing title, Founding Father of the Namibian Nation. Choosing to leave active politics, Nujoma was not re-elected to the SWAPO Central Committee or the Politburo, but the congress granted him permission to attend meetings of the Central Committee and Politburo "at his discretion". He may also receive the title of National Chairman of SWAPO.

Nujoma's son Utoni Nujoma
Utoni Nujoma
Utoni Daniel Nujoma is a Namibian politician. He is the son of Sam Nujoma, who was President of Namibia from 1990 to 2005, and was Deputy Minister of Justice until being appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2010...

 is Deputy Minister of Justice and was elected to the Central Committee and Politburo of SWAPO at its November 2007 congress.

The director of the National Society for Human Rights
National Society for Human Rights
The National Society for Human Rights is a Saudi Arabian human rights organisation closely associated with the Saudi government and established on 10 March 2004, two years after the Human Rights First Society applied unsuccessfully for a licence...

 (NSHR) in Namibia stated that Nujoma had connections to the CIA. The organization has asked the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

 to investigate Nujoma and what they say is his role in disappearances during his term. To date, these claims have not been substantiated.

Nujoma's mother, Kuku Helvi-Mpingana Kondombombolo, lived to an exceptionally old age, dying in November 2008; she was reportedly more than 100 years old.

In 2009, Sam Nujoma attained a Master's degree in Geology from the University of Namibia.

Despite stepping down from a formal role, Nujoma is still active in the political sphere, regularly campaigning for SWAPO at various rallies and functions across the country.

Awards and recognition

Nujoma received a Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 honoris causa in Public Management from Polytechnic of Namibia
Polytechnic of Namibia
The Polytechnic of Namibia, locally also known as Poly or Polytechnic, is an institute of tertiary education in Windhoek, Namibia. It has been established by Act 33 / 1994 of the Namibian Parliament.-History:...

 in 2005.

His Excellency Dr. Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic of Namibia, received the Cheetah Conservation Fund’s 2004 Lifetime Conservation Award.

See also

  • History of Namibia
    History of Namibia
    The history of Namibia has passed through several distinct stages from being colonised in the late nineteenth century to Namibia's independence on 21 March 1990....

  • Aaron Mushimba
    Aaron Mushimba
    Aaron Mushimba is a Namibian businessperson. Described as a business mogul, Mushimba has been involved with the trading of diamonds. He has been linked to Belgian American diamond merchant Maurice Tempelsman. He is the chairperson of Namibian investment group PE minerals, which holds the mining...

    , brother-in-law and prominent businessperson

External links