Namibian Liberation Struggle

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Namibian Liberation Struggle
Map of the war zone
Map of the war zone
date 1960 to 1989
place Namibia , Angola
output free elections; Victory by the SWAPO
consequences Namibian independence (March 21, 1990)
Parties to the conflict

Flag of South West Africa People's Organization.svg SWAPO
( People's Liberation Army of Namibia )

Flag of South Africa (1928–1994) .svg South Africa
( South African Defense Force , South West African Territory Force )




As a Namibian War of Independence , also Namibian independence struggle ( English Namibian liberation struggle / was ), the guerrilla war to obtain the independence of South West Africa , today's Namibia from South Africa called. In this war, the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) fought as a military branch of the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) against the South African occupying power between 1960 and 1989 .

Preconditions and background

Namibia was a German colony from 1884 to 1915 as a German South West Africa , was informally administered by Great Britain and South Africa from 1915 to 1919, was under the administration of the South African Union between 1919 and 1946 as a mandate of the League of Nations South West Africa , became a trust territory of the UN in 1946 and stood finally de jure since 1966 under own administration. South Africa did not accept this and treated SWA / Namibia as the 5th province in South Africa .

Fields of action of the decolonization process

Activities with the United Nations

Several political leaders from Namibian population groups had repeatedly criticized the practice of South Africa's mandate at the United Nations (UN). They availed themselves of the means of petitions in which they called on the UN to intervene against these conditions. The most famous people involved in these activities were the Ovambo leader Andimba Toivo ya Toivo , the Herero chief Hosea Kutako and other leaders from the Damara , Nama and Rehoboth Baster .

In 1976, the UN General Assembly recognized SWAPO as the "sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people". SWAPO had set this goal programmatically since the Consultative Congress in Tanga in 1969 and thus manifested its claim to lead the liberation struggle for Namibia's independence.

In September 1976 the Institute for Namibia opened in Lusaka with significant support from the United Nations . The aim of this facility was to train young Africans who had fled SWA / Namibia in order to enable them to take on functions in public administration in a later independent Namibia. The first group of students consisted of over 100 people. The course was designed for two years.

On August 5, 1978, the UN diplomat Martti Ahtisaari arrived in SWA / Namibia with a group of 48 UN specialists. He held talks with the Administrator-General Justice Steyn as well as with representatives of all major political groups and churches in the country. The information gained was used for the further planned action of the United Nations. In particular, the report to the UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim on this mission formed the conceptual basis of a future UN Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG), which should ensure a peaceful transition to independence. The group under Ahtisaari left the country again on August 22nd.

With Resolution 435 of the UN Security Council in 1978, the UN called for the withdrawal of the administration of South Africa in Namibia, which was contrary to international law.

The armed resistance against the occupation regime was closely related to the South African border war between 1966 and 1989, in which South Africa, the União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA) and the Angolan government with its ally Cuba and the SWAPO were involved.

Military level of action

The People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) (formerly "South West African Liberation Army") was the military branch of SWAPO.

The PLAN began its first attacks against the South African military on August 26, 1966 at Omugulugwombashe . Later attacks were carried out mainly from their bases in Zambia and Angola . After independence, the fighters were integrated into the Namibian Defense Force .

Members of the PLAN included:


In mostly northern parts of the country, the political interests of different camps clashed irreconcilably. This resulted in attacks on leading politicians from indigenous groups who were known for their tendency to cooperate with the South African occupying power.
The Chief Minister of Homeland Owambo Filemon Elifas was killed in an assassination attempt on August 16, 1975. He was attacked at Onamagongwa not far from Ondangwa . His death sparked public jubilation among Damara groups in Katutura ; “Elifas got what he deserved” protesters shouted.
In February 1978 Toivo Shiyagaya , the health
minister of the Ovambo homeland, was assassinated during a demonstration by the DTA of Namibia . About four weeks later it met Clemens Kapuuo , a co-founder of the DTA and President of NUDO . He was killed by gunfire behind his shop in Katutura township. In April 1978 SWAPO guerrillas abducted 86 black travelers from a bus near Ruacana across the nearby Angolan border. The kidnapping was related to a violent conflict in Katutura between Ovambo (SWAPO sympathizers) and Herero (NUDO sympathizers). In this township there was an illegal overpopulation in a mass accommodation in Windhoek due to influx-control measures ( access control in regional labor markets in South Africa at the time of apartheid) .

Exit and consequences

The efforts to achieve independence in the country ended with the first general and equal parliamentary elections in November 1989 (previously only whites were eligible to vote) and Namibia's independence on March 21, 1990.

The enclave of Walvis Bay , which historically did not belong to South West Africa, was handed over to Namibia as the last step in 1994.


August 26. as Heroes Day , a public holiday in Namibia . The Cassinga Day , also a public holiday, commemorates the attack on Cassinga of the 1978th

Various monuments were also erected across the country to commemorate the struggle for freedom. These include the Heroes' Field near Windhoek and the Eenhana Shrine in northern Namibia.

The text of the Namibian national anthem also deals with the struggle for freedom.

The Ministry of Veterans Affairs was founded in 2006 to support war veterans and has been subordinate to the Vice President of Namibia since March 2015 .

See also


  • Cleophas Johannes Tsokoday: Namibia's Independence Struggle. The Role of the United Nations. Xlibiris Corporation, USA 2011, ISBN 978-1-4568-5291-7 . ( Reading sample )
  • iz3w (ed.): Contaminated sites - Namibia's long road to independence. third world information center, Freiburg 2007.
  • Henning Melber : Re-examining Liberation in Namibia: Political Cultures Since Independence. Nordic Africa Institute, 2003, ISBN 978-9171065162 .
  • Colin Leys, Susan Brown: Namibia's liberation struggle: the two-edged sword. J. Curry, London 1995, ISBN 0-8214-1103-9 .
  • David Lush: Last Steps to Uhuru: An Eye-witness Account of Namibia's Transition to Independence. New Namibia Books, Windhoek 1993, ISBN 978-9991631127 .
  • Tido Spranger: Namibia's road to independence. Diploma theses agency, 1993, ISBN 978-3838601403 .
  • Mbumba, Patemann, Katjivena: One country, one future. Namibia on the way to independence. Peter Hammer Verlag, Wuppertal 1988.
  • Wolfgang Leumer: Namibia - on the way to independence. Research institute of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: work from the department for developing countries research. No. 60, Bonn 1978.
  • Eugen Fehr: Namibia. Liberation struggle in South West Africa. Stein / Nuremberg, Nuremberg 1973.
  • Rachel Valentina Nghiwete: Valentina: The Exile Child: An autobiography by Rachel Valentina Nghiwete . VEEM House of Publishing, Windhoek 2010, ISBN 978-0-578-05044-7 .


Web links

Commons : Namibian Liberation Struggle  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ GMO Bulkeley: The Mandated Territory of South-West Africa . In: Ellen Hellmann , Leah Abrahams (Ed.): Handbook on Race Relations in South Africa . Oxford University Press, Cape Town / London / New York 1949, pp. 755–756
  2. ^ SAIRR : A Survey of Race Relations in South Africa 1968 . Johannesburg 1969, p. 307
  3. Muriel Horrell (ed.): Laws affecting race relations in South Africa. 1948-1976 . SAIRR , Johannesburg 1978, ISBN 0-86982-168-7 , p. 498
  4. Joe Pütz, Heidi Von Egidy, Perri Caplan: Political Who's who of Namibia . Magus, Windhoek 1987, p. 121
  5. ^ SAIRR: A Survey of Race Relations in South Africa 1976 . Johannesburg 1977, p. 460
  6. ^ SAIRR: Survey of Race Relations in South Africa 1978 . Johannesburg 1979, p. 523
  7. ^ Horace Campbell: The Military Defeat of the South Africans in Angola . In: Monthly Review, 2013, Vol. 64, Issue 11 (April), online at (English)
  8. ^ Britannica Online Encyclopedia: Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia, or PLAN (army of SWAPO) . on (English)
  9. ^ André du Pisani : SWA / Namibia: The Politics of Continuity and Change . Jonathan Ball Publishers , Johannesburg 1985, ISBN 978-08685-009-28 , pp. 237, 390
  10. Michael Johns: Namibian Voters Deny Total Power to SWAPO . In: The Wall Street Journal , November 19, 1989.
  11. bibliographical evidence
  12. bibliographical evidence