Tribute to late Comrade Mandela Kapere

Dr Elijah Ngurare

I was stormed by shock when I learned that Mandela Kapere had died. I could not believe it. It sounded very unreal as Henny Seibeb was telling me about it. It was a shocking news and still is. I have seen Mandela Kapere growing up in the streets of Arandis. His father was then a Commissioner for the Western Region what is now Erongo Region. The late Mandela Kapere was amongst the cream of young people who have grown in the minefield of Africa’s youth politics in order to become leaders of the continent at various levels. Arandis was that classroom which schooled him of nationalism and a melting pot of all cultures.

In 2007, when I was Secretary of SWAPO Party Youth League we appointed Mandela Kapere, Charles Siyauya, Clinton Swartbooi, Veiko Nekundi and Eveline !Nawases Taeyele to the Central Committee of the SWAPO Party Youth League. It was a decision which was not well received by some quarters, understandably so. It was the first time for the young Mandela Kapere to feature in the national politics of the SWAPO Party Youth League and it was from here that we recommended him to head the National Youth Council of Namibia. Comrade Mandela benefitted at the National Youth Council from the experience of Comrade Julius Nyerere Namoloh, one of the bright minds of our generation.

I vividly recall the lively debates of the SWAPO Party Youth League Central Committee. The meetings would always be topical, long and exciting. We would often sunrise especially on spirited debates about policy issues and or disagreements about a variety of issues we believed government was not doing well. The late Mandela Kapere would be in one corner, Alec Boois, Julius Namoloh, Armas Amukwiyu, John Kantana, Sacky Shanghala in another, Lucia Iipumbu, Clinton Swartbooi, Charles Siyauya and later in 2012 the likes of Sioni Iikela, Paulus Mbangu, Imms Nashinge, Job Amupanda, Romona Hidileko, Eddie Kafita and others joined the debates. It was always an interesting combination in those Central Committee meetings. The late Mandela Kapere would make his submissions in a measured manner even though the debates were acrimonious at times. In these debates no point was beyond debate. We would discuss about government programs like TIPEEG, would discuss about schools in rural areas to be supplied by local produce, we would discuss about terminologies to be given to sanitation facilities and water to rural areas, we would discuss the conduct of SOEs, selling off Etosha to the Americans, and we would discuss about some young leaders being used to fight the wars that is not theirs which we often termed bubblegum syndrome. Chairing these meetings for me was always an exciting enterprise.

Comrade Mandela Kapere rose through the ranks and became a Member of Parliament as well as a Member of the Central Committee of the SWAPO Party. One of the feature I recall about the late Comrade Mandela is that he maintained his respect even after we were expelled in 2015. Although he supported the expulsion at the time, in later years, he reached out to me. Last year, Secretary General of SWAPO Party, Comrade Sofia Shaningwa, requested a few of us to work on a document for food security. The late Comrade Mandela Kapere was one of the instant volunteer when we drafted the concept note.

Towards the end of his life, the late Cde. Mandela Kapere appears to have decided that there is no need to hate his generation and it also seems that he wanted to throw an olive branch to anyone he might have wronged along the way. It is only painful that I did not know that every word he was sharing with me was his last; I did not know that every concept he was sharing was his last; I did not know that the words he was speaking were his last; and I did not know that our young comrade from the dusty streets of Arandis has gone on to join youth leaders like Owen Shaamena, Martin Mukiri, Gerald Kanduombe and others. Had I known, I could have probably asked Kalunga to delay the departure of Cde Mandela Kapere for a little while longer. There was a lot more left which he could have done. There was so much that needed his energy and diplomacy. Above all, his children, wife, parents, siblings needed him to stay on much longer. Sadly what is done is done. Comrade Mandela Kapere has closed his eyes forever. What is left is for us, the living, to trace the steps of his life and learn from the qualities and the legacy he leaves behind for SWAPO Party and for Namibia. May His Soul Rest In Eternal Peace

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