Celebrated every year on 21 March, Namibia’s Independence Day is marked to celebrate the nation’s freedom, independence, sovereignty, and self-determination. It was on this day that Namibia gained her freedom from the then South African colonial regime, under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 435, after a bitter and protracted armed liberation struggle.
The country’s name has its origins in the word ‘nama’ which means ‘vast place.’ Nama was used to refer to the Namib desert, which is said to be the oldest desert in the world. In prehistoric times, Namibia was occupied by ethnic African tribes such as Nama, San, and Damara. The first European expedition to Namibia was in 1485 when Portuguese explorer Diogo Cao reached the southern African country.
In 1884, Namibia became a German colony under Otto Von Bismarck. At that time the country was known as Deutsch-Südwestafrika which translated to South-West Africa. In 1904, the German occupiers systematically executed over 80,000 natives of Namibia. After Germany’s defeat in World War 1, the country was taken over by South Africa. After World War 2, following the U.N.’s sanctions, South Africa was asked to give up control over Namibia, which it refused.
In the 1970s, the revolts for independence began. The people of Namibia were motivated as this is also the time when neighbouring countries like Angola and Zambia had gained their independence. The guerrilla group, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia led the struggle for the independence of Namibia from South Africa. In 1988, South Africa agreed to give Namibia its much-awaited freedom. On March 21, 1990, Namibia gained its freedom and the country was renamed the Republic of Namibia. Sam Nujoma was chosen as the first President of the Republic of Namibia.
Credit: Mark-Anthony Johnson