Various speakers at the memorial service of late ambassador and senior headman Hadino Hishongwa, held on Friday, described him as a “fearless hero” and a “gigantic man”.
Hishongwa served as deputy minister of labour, industrial relations and employment creation from 1990 to 1995, and as deputy minister of youth from 1995 to 2005.
He also served as Namibian high commissioner to Botswana from 2007 to 2011. Hishongwa died on 31 August at Ongwediva, following an illness.
Among those who spoke at Hishongwa’s memorial held at his traditional homestead at Onekwaya West village in the Endola constituency of the Ohangwena region were his cousin Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Pohamba, who was Namibia’s second president, said Hishongwa was a hero and freedom fighter who served Swapo and Namibia in various capacities before and after independence. He said his cousin went into exile in 1964. While in exile, he served as Swapo representative in Australia, Europe and West Africa.
Pohamba said Hishongwa also headed a programme restoring the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority.
“Later on, he served as adviser to Oukwanyama Queen Martha Mwadinomho Kristian Nelumbu.
“Ohamba [the queen] realised he is a person with capacity, so she appointed him as senior headman for the Omhedi district. He served in that capacity until his death,” he said.
In a speech read on her behalf by ambassador Bonny Haufiku, Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa described Hishongwa as a fearless freedom fighter whose courage and determination for Namibia’s independence overcame continuous harassment and unjust arrest by apartheid forces. Shaningwa said despite torture and intimidation by the colonial forces, Hishongwa never sold out People’s Liberation Army of Namibia fighters or provided the apartheid forces information about Swapo activities.
Founding president Sam Nujoma said Hishongwa’s political activism started during the late 1950s. He was among the first young activists to fight the apartheid system at the age of 15, he said. “The men and women who joined the liberation struggle at such a time were among the bravest of the brave, when any association with the liberation movement risked imprisonment and even death,” Nujoma said in his speech, read by the chairperson of the Ohangwena regional council, Erickson Ndawanifa.
Nujoma urged the Namibian youth and Hishongwa’s children and grandchildren to pick up where he left off and ensure that his sacrifices, and the sacrifices of many others, were not in vain.
Hishongwa’s wife, Ester, said her husband never entertained laziness.
“He was hardworking, he detested lies, and he did not entertain revenge. He was loving, a man of wisdom, and he was loved by his subjects. He was loved by the queen,” she said.
Ester said her husband started feeling unwell in 2020, and has been in and out of hospital since. Hishongwa was readmitted on 23 August this year to Ongwediva MediPark and died seven days later.
Speaking at the same event, Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani said Hishongwa was a disciplinarian and a kind-hearted man who loved eating meat.
“Our country has lost a patriot. When he was a member of parliament, tate Hishongwa was one of the most difficult politicians who would accept a contribution from opposition parties,” Venaani said.
Hishongwa’s daughter, Hipuulenga, said her father was a strong person who raised his children with an iron fist.
She said her father was a disciplinarian and a no-nonsense man.
Retired ambassador Shapwa Kaukungwa said Hishongwa loved cultural and traditional games such as wrestling and boxing.
Hishongwa was laid to rest at Eenhana shrine on Saturday.
He is survived by his wife and nine children.