Freedom, Without Being Actually Free, in America

Surely, certain events like the calamity of the 9/11 events make or affect someone in one way or the other. Just as the 9/11 event has forever affected me and most people everywhere else, since 9/11, I have to constantly check the news, I even sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, just to check the news.

Anywho, I remember when we used to travel freely anywhere in America before 9/11; you could just walk in any airport within the US, get your airline ticket and walk to any boarding gate without being scrutinized and restricted. But since 9/11, things have changed for the worse and it will never be the same and I can only imagine how it’s going to be even 10 years from now and beyond.

In most major cities, video camera are on almost every corner, cops and securities are constantly monitoring every person’s movement, constantly being watched, constantly being surveillanced, and anything and everything you do in public places is being recorded. Is that the freedom we always talk about?

So, what is a freedom, without actually being free? This all reminds me when we were growing up in Namibia under the South African apartheid government. But that was hell on earth, which would never and could never be compared to any living condition of mankind, anywhere. We had a strict curfew, in rural areas, we were not permitted to move around outside our homes anytime before 7:00 AM or after 7:00 PM or before the sun rises or after the sun sets.

I just wonder if most people actually know or are even aware of what it was actually like living in Namibia and or South Africa during the apartheid era, or perhaps they only know about comrade Nelson Mandela’s freedom from prison?

It was worse than what most people actually know. Most people especially in the U.S. don’t really know exactly how it was, because only a few books have been actually written about Namibia’s actual living condition under the South African apartheid system that have reached the mainstream outside Namibia. Most people know about the South African struggle against apartheid, because Mandela and others have written a lot of news articles and books when they were imprisoned and there’re many movies and books that have been released and published about the South African apartheid system such as the movie Sarafina, Cry; My Beloved Country, etc.

But the same South African apartheid government has ruthlessly governed Namibia since the 1960’s until March 1990. We in Namibia and South Africa then, had the same ruthless PW Botha, as Prime Minister and Executive State President and later on F.W. de Klerk. We both lived in infamy, the black citizens of South Africa and Namibia, then South West Africa.

But, soon, I will release my autobiography 1.0, and I will detail everything in it that I know and have experienced. There’re many brave men and women, especially my mother, in Namibia, my loving and hard-working mom, Leticia Jacob, the only daughter of Jacob Haimbili, son of King Haimbili yaHaufiku, and most men and women in Namibia and South Africa who have silently but aggressively fought against the South African apartheid system by secretively but gracelessly and bravely supported their sons and daughters, the SWAPO and ANC freedom fighters, who relentlessly fought and eventually partly caused Namibia and South Africa to be freed from the ruthless bondage of the South African apartheid government.

Specifically, my mom, if she was elsewhere, like here in the U.S., then many books would have been written about her heroism. She has risked and sacrificed her own life and our lives, as her children, for the sake of helping and saving a lot of SWAPO freedom fighters.

In the late 70’s and until the late 80’s, our house at Omunkete, in the Northern of Namibia had once been the rezendvous for SWAPO freedom fighters. When they would be anywhere, elsewhere, either in Angola or other parts of Namibia, and if they told each other that they were going to meet in Uukwambi, then they automatically knew exactly, without being specific, where they were going to meet, and that would be at our house.

Many Namibian businessmen such as Frans Aupa Iindongo, Akumbe and many others would come to our house especially on weekends with the help of my lovely and brave sister, Jenisia, now in Luderitz, to host and have parties for the SWAPO freedom fighters at our house.

One of the great examples of my mom’s unspoken heroism was; when one morning in around 1984, we were all working in our farm, I think it was at around 10 AM. The night before, some of SWAPO freedom fighters, led by their group leader, Hamunyela, no, not the Kakunya group, had just had a dinner-party at our house, and that morning while they were just sitting around about 5 miles away from our house, under a thick and big tree in the forest, they had just had breakfast brought to them by someone as that was the custom for the general public to care and feed freedom fighters, but in secret, because if South African army found out that you feed or care for them, then they would come and get you and you’ll never be found again or heard about what had happened to you. Many people had gone missing because of that, so everything was done in a quiet whisper of the silence.

Anyway, they had just finished eating their breakfast when they were suddenly surrounded and attacked by the South African Koevoet, the ruthless and merciless arm of the South African Military Forces. Hamunyela and Company, five of them, it was always the strategy that when someone brought them food that not all of them would eat at the same time, in case something like what had eventually and sadly happened to them might happen. So four of them ate the breakfast and one didn’t. But that breakfast was somehow may be toppled with something because after they had eaten it, they just suddenly fell asleep and became completely weak, all four of them, and when the Koevoet attacked them, which we believed that they were tipped off about their location by the same element that poisoned them, so when they were attacked, they couldn’t even fight or run, they just laid around, completely helpless, and were shot dead by the Koevoet.

As we were busy working in our field that morning, the first thing we heard were a hissing of bullets flying above our heads, and we, my mom and my two young brothers, Sackey and Thomas, just ducked on the ground so we wouldn’t get hit by hundreds of the stray bullets.

A few minutes later, as we laid on the ground frightened, silently calling and checking on each other, you couldn’t hear anything else except the thunders and explosions of guns firing, and as we looked up, we saw one of the five SWAPO freedom fighters, and we instantly recognized him, coming and running hastily towards our house, running away from the spartans of the Koevoet’s bullets.

He had nowhere else to go hide, he only knew one place to go, and that was our house, he didn’t trust anybody else, but my mom. And under the heavy rain of flying bullets, my mom crawled and went after him in the house, and she whisked him outside of the house and hid him in her underground clay-pot making room, just behind our house, where she, like many most women in Namibia used to make clay pots, and she covered up the entrance with a small old mat, so if you didn’t know that there’s an underground shed there, then you wouldn’t find it or even noticed that there’s anything under.

A few minutes later, hundreds of Koevoet soldiers, eight Caspirs, came thundering towards our house, tracing his footsteps, while dragging the naked and dead bodies of the other four SWAPO freedom fighters on top of the Caspirs.

They used to do that to try to disgrace them and discourage the general public from supporting them. Anyway, they followed his footsteps right inside our house, and as they looked around, everywhere in the house, but they couldn’t find him or anything and they didn’t find his footsteps going outside of the house. It was like he had disappeared completely away from the face of the earth, he was nowhere to be found and no footsteps anywhere in the surroundings of our house, like he has gone out.

They came back in the field and pushed us around, screaming, pushing and butting us around, and beating us with their guns, slamming my mom and I onto the ground, pointing their guns in our mouths, threatening to shoot and kill us if we wouldn’t tell them where that Oshikulo (the freedom fighter) had went, but we wouldn’t tell them, no matter how loud they screamed at us, no matter how scary they made us feel, we just kept quiet, but we couldn’t lie to them that we didn’t see him, because we knew that they were following his footsteps, so we told them that we saw him running passing by our house but we didn’t see where he went, because we laid on the ground, dodging their bullets.

They couldn’t believe us, so they drove their scary army trucks, Caspirs, through our house, and completely trashed everything in it, they smashed and ran over our house and completely destroyed everything in it, our food and our clothes, to the ground, and when they stopped, there was nothing left standing, but we wouldn’t tell them where he was, we just kept quiet.

They swarmed our whole area, our whole village, looking for that one Oshikulo who had escaped, but they didn’t find him, because we didn’t tell them anything. They loomed around for the whole day, and they finally left later on in the evening.

My mom kept him hidden in that underground space for three days. Only her and I knew that he was there and only the two of us took him food and water to drink, but only at night, when it was completely dark. My two young brothers and little sister, Magano, were too young, so we couldn’t tell them anything in case the Koevoet scared them and they might talk.

And after three days, when it was completely calm and quiet, and only after we knew that the Koevoet had completely left and it was then safe, my mom then let him out, gave him food and water to wash up and he then left. He and a new group came back a few months later just to thank my mom.

Namibia gained independence from the South African apartheid government on March 21, 1990, but that independence came at high and bloody prize. I consider my mom as a hero, because what she did, not only for that one particular day when she literally saved and rescued that one freedom fighter from the death teeth of the Koevoet, but on many numerous occasions for many years, before and after that, leading up to the Namibia’s general election in 1989, is unimaginable. She has done a lot and has unimaginably contributed to the independence of Namibia, just like many other women and men in Namibia.

She’s the true hero and I will always and forever be proud of her, even if she has never been even privately or publicly recognized by the Namibian government or any organization as a hero, to me and many men and women, SWAPO freedom fighters, like my friend, Ignatius, who was one of the SWAPO freedom fighters whom my mom used to care for and support know that she’s a brave and strong woman. But then again, there’re hundreds and thousands of men and women in Namibia, just like my mom, who did exactly or more than what my mom did. But the majority of us all were in one spirit, in one unity, although we were silenced, we all spoke in one unspoken but loud voice that we were not going to be quiet, that we were going to fight for our freedom, we were all poised to support our brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, cousins and nephews who were out there, fighting for our freedom, our existence, our God’s given human rights, for the independence of our Namibia.

My older brother Daniel, a former SWAPO freedom fighter died in 1990 on duty, he was a paramilitary officer for the then newly established Namibian Military, just almost a year after he had returned from the exile. He had left and joined SWAPO in 1980, and my oldest brother Ndabo, died while in exile as a SWAPO freedom fighter, and many of my cousins, nieces and nephews, just like many other Namibians’ sons and daughters, who joined the SWAPO Plan (People Liberation Army of Namibia) movement and fought for our freedom, freedom from oppression, apartheid, racism, and fascism.

If Namibia should recognize heroes and heroines, then whom should be awarded the medals of heroisms, my mom and thousands of other similar men and women?

From that experience while growing up in Namibia, I have learned and will always know and remember that, if people are really united as one, and working together as a team, then people can do and achieve the impossibilities.

The South African apartheid government was then a nuclear power, had one of the most powerful and well trained and equipped military forces in the world, but because most people, both in Namibia and South Africa, were united as one, under one umbrella, one will and belief in SWAPO and ANC, then the people,  themselves, not so much through the barrel of the guns, but through the relentless spirit of one unity, the unity of the people of Namibia and South Africa, supported by some communities in the world, defeated the mighty PW Botha and his apartheid government.

Of course, we will never forget, it will always live within all of us; I will always live with nightmares every time I close my eyes to sleep. How can I live with this and go on? Forgiving, but will never forget.

In Namibia, President Nujoma, one of the best strategist freedom fighters in the world, but easily not well-recognized by some, as far as I know and remember, was the first one, anywhere in the world, to declare and institute the spirit of national reconciliation into a Nation’s constitution in 1990, and then South Africa followed thereafter when they gained independence in 1994.

Here in America, life has changed and it’s changing due to one sick and twisted man, bin Laden. I know that Senator Barack Obama had said differently this week about how America is not changing, but I disagree with him, life in America has changed.

Since 9/11, we’re constantly being frightened and are restricted to how we should live and move about our life.

And as long as we don’t unite, all of us, in one spirit and with one voice, with one goal and one vision, we will never be able to eradicate and defeat this fear, the fear of being afraid of being attacked by those who’re against our freedom, our belief, and our culture, the threat that’s threatening our very basic freedom of speech, movement and life.

One way of ending this threat and fear of any kind and bring peace and stability to our existence here in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, is to have unity; one goal, one dream, and one vision  – to live in peace and harmony without being threatened or scared of anyone from anywhere at any time.

So, we can live, just like the way we used to, before the calamity of the September 11th, 2001, to live our life, without actually living in infamy.


7 thoughts on “Freedom, Without Being Actually Free, in America

  1. Hi mr simon! Im ur cousin malakia&my dad was jonas jacob.ur mom “s brother.i mis u! Say hi to maria!

  2. Have u come across other Namibians in the USA related to Haimbili, Nanyeni, and Weyulu. I am a descident of the Nanyeni who was killed at Ouheke-Engelawith his entrage as he escaped royal power struggle and Kingdom succession from Ombadja, born of Mwadina ya Nanyeni, sister of Kaukwanyama ya Nanyeni who is mother to Josua Uahengo,fasther of the Uahengos, and you may have good info to trace other relatives in the Americas with names such as Nailyavala, Mbabi, Hepeni etc

  3. Mr Kapenda,you and your mother has demostrated highest act of heroism. Just like any other mothers who acted the same, to resist ruthless racists Apartheid regime in Namibia.I was one of the freedom fighter, survived more 100 battles between 1977-1989.We had to cross the rivers of blood to attain the victory over the most powerfull Apartheid army in Africa.I would like to say everyone participated in the armed liberation of our mother Land is a hero.My own sister (Nurse) did the same,She was arrested by the murderous Koevoet,detained for 3 months in isolation at Onimwandi Koevoet base Oshakati.She was tortured and lost one her limb and an eye.She never disclosed despite pain and sufferings that,the wounded freedom fighter was hidden in the ceilings of their act of heroism.

  4. Mr Kapenda, I was in Northern Namibia for 7 years n the last part of the 80’s. I never came across “murderous Koevoet” or violent Security Forces. Those security forces were from the same Ovambo’s and Kavango’s they were battling. They received the information from them and went back home when off duty. Unfortunately Swapo sided with the Communist USSR, the east German’s and the (still) Communist Cuba. Did the Swapo insurgents expected to be treated like mercy workers if they brought along landmines and AK47 assault rifles? Came on, be real. The war is over and everybody should except there were two sides. A anti-communist (apartheid?) and a communist (nationalist) side. Thankfully the USSR disappeared or the South Africans would still have been around the area.

  5. My name is Johannes, and I served with Leon Bez during the 80’s in the SADF Battalion in Namibia. I am appalled that he will say these thing even up to now, when everyone knows that what had happened to the people of Namibia and South Africa was wrong and should never be repeated anywhere.

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