Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo Obituary – Professor Ben Turok

IFAA wishes to add our voice to mourn the passing of Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo, one of the founders of the new state of Namibia. We have a special reason for remembering him as he came to Cape Town as a migrant worker in the early 1950s where he soon made contact with members of the Modern Youth Society, a nonracial organization of young people in broad support of the aims of the liberation movement.

Toivo Ya Toivo was new to some of the issues being debated there but he was ever avid to join in private discussions, thereby making friendships that lasted long afterwards. In later years when he was in the Namibian government he often remarked that his contacts in Cape Town provided a solid foundation for his later deeper involvement in the struggle.

When he was in Cape Town the country was going through a deep period of crisis with the defiance campaign and much increased activity by the Special Branch who were increasingly vigilant against any sign of opposition. Toivo Ya Toivo had to be very discreet in his contacts with the South African movement but he was deeply interested in everything going on.

In 1960 he founded the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) which led the struggle for Namibian independence. He was arrested in 1966 with 31 comrades and tried under the Terrorism Act of 1967. He spent many years on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and his comrades.

We mark his contribution to the history of our region and honour his dedication.

 

IFAA Director,

Prof. Ben Turok

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