Okahao breathes new life into the Nujoma statue blueprint

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The Okahao City Council said it would revive the proposal to erect a statue of former President Sam Nujoma (93) in the city.

Plans were put forward in 2019 that the city council appointed an advisory committee to oversee the erection of Nujoma’s statue in his hometown.

The committee is made up of retired senior officials.

The city’s chief executive, Junias Jakob, said last week that erecting the Nujoma statue was only a proposal.

“It’s an idea that hasn’t been launched yet. We will relaunch and update you on the progress,” he said.

City spokeswoman Victoria Haihambo said earlier this year that the project had been put on hold due to financial constraints.

However, a source close to the project says the city council submitted a proposal in 2019 to have the Nujoma statue erected in the city.

The former president would have accepted this honor.

“The idea was to erect the statue near his village (Etunda), which is now under the jurisdiction of the city, and build a green park. This is to show that this is the village where he was born,” the source said.

Nujoma was born in Etunda, about three kilometers east of Okahao.

In December 2019, the city council appointed a committee, chaired by former diplomat Hopelong Ipinge, to lead the erection of the statue.

The cost of the project is not known and it was unclear who had been hired to sculpt the statue.

Ipinge is deputized by the former Namibian ambassador to France, Nangula Iithete, while the chief executive officer (CEO) of Okahao heads the secretariat.

Other members of the committee are former Windhoek CEO Niilo Taapopi, former Permanent Secretary of the House of State Ndeutala Angolo, Okahao Local Authority Councilor Johannes Uushini, former Permanent Secretary at the agriculture Josef Iita, Managing Director of the Government Institutions Pension Fund Elvis Nashilongo, founding mayor of Okahao Hilda Haipinge, and retired Brigadier General David Shiimbi.

Former Oshana Regional Director Johannes Kandombo, businessman David ‘Kambwa’ Sheehama and Okahao Constituency Councilor Leonard Shikulo are ex-officio members.

At the time, the city council declared that the statue of Nujoma would complement tourism in the city.

Contacted last week for comment, Iipinge referred The Namibian to the city council, while management committee chairman Johannes Uushini referred the paper to Haihambo and Jakob.

“I sit on the high-level committee to advise the board on matters of interest, but I’m not mandated to speak to the media,” Uushini said.

Meanwhile, Nujoma’s personal assistant Paul Shipale said last week that he was unaware of the Okahao City Council’s plan to erect a statue of the country’s founding president.

If built, it would not be the first Nujoma statue in Namibia.

In 2013, the Namibian reported that the government had spent N$284,000 on the construction of a bronze statue of Nujoma, which was unveiled at Omugulu Gwombashe in August of the same year.

The Nujoma statue was sculpted by Mansudae Overseas Project, a North Korean company that was also contracted to manufacture the “unknown soldier” at Heroes’ Acre, on the outskirts of Windhoek.

In March 2014, another statue of Nujoma was unveiled in front of the Independence Memorial Museum in Windhoek.

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