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Women Soldier Mother

Ellen Ndeshi Namhila

Publication Year: 2013

In 1963 Mukwahepo left her home in Namibia and followed her fiance across the border into Angola. They survived hunger and war and eventually made their way to Tanzania. There, Mukwahepo became the first woman to undergo military training with SWAPO. For nine years she was the only woman in SWAPO's Kongwa camp. She was then thrust into a more traditional women's role - taking care of children in the SWAPO camps in Zambia and Angola. At Independence, Mukwahepo returned to Namibia with five children. One by one their parents came to reclaim them, until she was left alone. Already in her fifties, and with little education, Mukwahepo could not get employment. She survived on handouts until the Government introduced a pension and other benefits for veterans. Through a series of interviews, Ellen Ndeshi Namhila recorded and translated Mukwahepo's remarkable story. This book preserves the oral history of not only the 'dominant male voice' among the colonised people of Namibia, but brings to light the hidden voice, the untold and forgotten story of an ordinary woman and the outstanding role she played during the struggle.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright

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Ellen Ndeshi Namhila

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pp. v-xii

We arrived in Nyango, a SWAPO1 camp in Zambia, in August 1978. We were a group of fifteen girls. All of us were survivors of the Cassinga massacre. Cassinga was a SWAPO refugee camp in Angola, which was bombed by the South African Defence Force on 4 May 1978...


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pp. xiii-xiv


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1. Life-changing Words

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pp. 1-8

‘I have come to collect you. I want you to pack your bag so we can leave right now, tonight, this moment. I will explain to you later where we are going. But it is a long journey that I cannot take without you.’ These words, spoken by my fiancé, Shikongo shaHangala, changed...

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2. The Journey into Exile

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pp. 9-28

When everyone in the house was fast asleep, Shikongo and I hit the road, en route to Angola. We walked to a house in Oshikango, where we found Filimon Andreas (Kashabubu), Johannes yaHaukongo (Danger) and Filipus Haukongo waiting for us. We rested for a while...


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3. Military Training in Kongwa

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pp. 31-58

I cannot remember the exact date, but it was during the month of July 1964 that we finally arrived in Tanganyika23 after an eventful journey of more than a year, which had taken us from Namibia through Angola, the Congo, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I have also forgotten...


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4. Zambia

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pp. 61-80

I had been in Lusaka for about a week when the SWAPO officials told me that I would be taken to the Old Farm, a farm on the outskirts of Lusaka. I was told that there were Namibian women and children staying there who had recently arrived from home and who needed my support urgently. I happily joined them...

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5. Angola

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pp. 81-98

In 1980, I received a verbal message from our camp commander at Nyango that I should pack all my belongings and wait for the transport that would take me to Lusaka, from where I was booked to fly to Angola. I was told that there was an urgent message from the SWAPO...

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6. The Coming of Independence

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pp. 99-110

We received the news about the implementation of UN Resolution 435 in June of 1989. We were at Kwanza-Sul, going about our business as usual, when suddenly there was an urgent call from the camp commander for all residents to speedily gather at the parade. When we arrived there, we saw that we had visitors. The camp commander called...


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7. Returning Home

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pp. 113-128

I left the transit camp in Luanda in August 1989 and, together with my five children and Comrade Kaino, flew to Ondangwa via Lubango. On arrival at Ondangwa airport, we were greeted by a jubilant group of SWAPO supporters who had come to welcome us and to look out for their relatives who had gone into exile. Oh, I was extremely delighted to...

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8. Life in Independent Namibia

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pp. 129-140

In 1992, I was called to the SWAPO office at Ohangwena, where I was informed that I was one of a selected group of veterans to whom SWAPO was giving cattle. I was being given eleven head of cattle. My cattle were at a place called Mururani, where SWAPO had acquired a...

About the Author

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pp. 141-142

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789991642208
Print-ISBN-13: 9789991642208

Page Count: 158
Publication Year: 2013