Herman Toivo Ya Toivo Herman Toivo Ya Toivo

The Namibian people has been mourning Hon. Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo who passed on, on June 9, 2017. Toivo Ya Toivo was an anti apartheid activist; a political trailblazer; a political prisoner; a pioneer veteran of the liberation struggle; a committed revolutionary legend; a freedom fighter; a patriot and humanist; and a national hero of Namibia.

Because of his political activities in support of Namibian independence, Ya Toivo was arrested in 1966 by the South African authorities under Terrorist Act. During his trial with 36 other Namibians in August 1967 he made a speech on behalf of the group and the speech has gained recognition for its pronouncements denying South Africa the right to try South West African citizens or to rule their country, by declaring that: “We are Namibians, and not South African. We do not now and will not in future, recognize your right to govern us: to make law for us, in which we had no say; to treat our country as if it was your property and us as if you are our masters. We have always regarded South Africa as an intruder in our country, this is how we always felt and this is how we feel now and it is on this basis that we have faced trial.”

His speech made headlines and became an international circulated key document to rally support for the Namibian liberation struggle. On January 26, 1968, he was found guilty of contravening the terrorist act and sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Pretoria Court and jailed on Robben Island. After his conviction he made a statement when entering the prison and said: “I knew that the struggle will be long and bitter, but I also know that my people will wage that struggle, whatever the cost. Only when we are granted our independence will the struggle stop”.

He was released on March 1, 1984 after serving 18 years in prison at Robben Island in Cape Town South Africa. After independence he became the first Minister of Mines and Energy from 1990 until 1999, Minister of Labour from 1999 until 2002, and Minister of Prisons and Correctional Services from 2002 until 2006. Ya Toivo used to attend NDF military exercises and he always emphasized the importance of having a Defence Force as an instrument of national power in the country. He retired from active politics in 2006.

Ya Toivo died on the evening of June 9, 2017 at his home in Windhoek at the age of 92. He was declared as a national hero of Namibia and accorded a state funeral and laid to rest at Heroes’ Acre’ in Windhoek on June 24, 2017.

His warmth and humanity will remain fresh in our minds forever and we shall be inspired by his examples as a revolutionary and a great political figure.

A Tribute to the Namibian Hero A Tribute to the Namibian Hero