Bloody massacre remembered on Cassinga Day

Niël Terblanché

THE 1978 attack on Cassinga, led by airborne soldiers of the South African army where more than 600 people died, after 45 years, still serves as a sombre reminder of the resolute resolve of Namibians during the long and bitter struggle for freedom.

President Hage Geingob, in a special message, said that during the Cassinga attack and for many years after that, untold sacrifices were made, blood was shed and many lives were lost during the protracted war for the eventual liberation of Namibia.

“Today marks 45 years since the fateful day on May 4, 1978, when hundreds of precious and innocent Namibian lives were lost and many people left with permanent physical and mental scars, following a brutal and despicable cowardly massacre by the military forces of apartheid South Africa,” Geingob said.

The Cassinga settlement was a reception centre in Southern Angola for Namibians fleeing from the illegal occupation of their country to prepare for resistance.

The president said that the majority of the settlement’s community were women, children, elderly people and non-combatants, who paid the ultimate price for Namibia’s independence and freedom.

“On this day, the blood of our countrymen and women flowed greatly and hence today, as a symbol of eternal gratitude, we accord them the recognition in our national anthem as having watered our freedom,” he said.

President Geingob said that on Cassinga Day many Namibians not only deeply appreciate the depth and height of the sacrifices that the fallen heroes and heroines have made, but they also understand the need to maintain the peace, unity and freedom that their sacrifices brought for all Namibians.

Geingob also paid tribute to the selfless solidarity of the People of Angola, the People of Cuba, the People of the former Soviet Union and all progressive internationalist forces that stood with the liberation movement during its darkest hour.

“This is not only a day to commemorate the selfless acts of sacrifice, but it is also a day for us to reaffirm our patriotism and foster a true sense of pride and duty towards our nation. Let us safeguard our hard-won freedom by rejecting all forms of hate speech, ethnicity, tribalism, racism and divisive language that incite violence,” the President urged.

Sophia Shaningwa, the Secretary General of the SWAPO Party, during a special event held in the Oshana Region to commemorate the sacrifices of Namibia’s heroes and heroines of the Cassinga massacre, said it is of paramount importance to note that it was not only the Cassinga refugee camp that was attacked on that fateful day but also other Namibian refugee settlements across the Angolan border.

“Significant numbers of innocent civilians were massacred in cold blood by the colonial forces of occupation,” she said.

Shaningwa said that Namibians are very fortunate to still have some of the survivors of that fateful day amongst them.

“The Veterans of the National Liberation Struggle are here in our midst; hence the truth should be told and we can attest to what happened. We have left thousands of Namibians who perished during our long and bitter fight for freedom. They are buried in known and unknown graves inside and outside Namibia. May their souls continue to rest in peace,” she said.

She said that at independence in 1990, the Government of the Republic of Namibia committed itself strongly to the policy of National Reconciliation. “Although this policy heals the wounds of bitter exchanges such as Cassinga, we can only forgive but never forget what happened,” she said.

Shaningwa said that the sacrifices of all during the struggle for freedom allowed Namibians in the 33 years of independence, to attain tangible developmental progresses under the SWAPO Party-led Government in various sectors.

She named amongst others, SME support programs, provision of accessible quality healthcare, education for all, housing, road, water, power infrastructure, maintenance of peace and stability, food security and a conducive environment for foreign and local investment.

“These are just some of the achievements,” she said.

Shaningwa implored Namibians to jealously guard their peace, unity, harmony and stability and said the people must endeavour to recommit themselves to protect their hard-won independence in the best interest of the current and future generations.

“As we continue with the struggle for economic emancipation, let us continue to fight against unemployment, ignorance, anarchy, alcohol and drugs abuse and poverty, in order to respect their blood that waters our freedom,” she implored.

She said the sacrifices of the past would forever encourage the governing party to continue safeguarding the freedom and independence that those people died for.

Related Posts