By Theresia Tjihenuna March 2013

From horrors of Cassinga to mayorship

Having narrowly escaped death twice during Namibia’s independence struggle in the 70s, Agnes Kafula knows what it feels like to have a close brush with death and still live to tell the story. From her humble beginnings to becoming a household name in the capital’s internal affairs, Windhoek’s newly-appointed mayor, Agnes Kafula, now has the mother city’s burdens on her shoulder. Kafula was one of the fortunate few who survived the Cassinga Massacre on 4 May 1978. She may have cheated death at close range but the emotional scars remain with her to date. Born Agnes Mpingana Kafula on 1 November 1955 at Onuumba Village in Etayi Constituency, Kafula is the second of her parents’ five children. “I was born at the time when Swapo was still Ovamboland People’s Organisation (OPO). My father passed away when I was two years old. My mother re-married and the family relocated to my stepfather, Thomas Amwaalwa’s village in Iipanda – Yaamiti,” she narrates. She was enrolled at the Uuwanatshikare Roman Catholic School at the same village where she did her primary education until 1972 before moving back to Etayi later that year to stay with her grandmother. Two years later, she resumed studies at the Oshakati Secondary School. She would apply for a teaching post at Etayi Primary School where she taught from January until September that year. It was around this time that she befriended a colleague by the name Maria ‘Doctor’ Nambondi who would later became her companion in the escape to exile to join the liberation struggle. “Maria and I met a group of young men from Oranjemund. They had come to the North for a soccer tournament. They were secretly planning to cross the border to Angola after the tournament, so we decided to join them,” recalls Kafula. To get to the border, the group had to wait for two weeks for a troop of ex-combatants to escort them to their destination, as they were unfamiliar with the Angolan territory. In the meantime, they found shelter at Elombe Village where a Good Samaritan, a certain Tate Enias, accommodated them for a week. “Someone unfortunately informed the South African authorities of our intentions to cross the border. We knew that we were no longer safe, so we escaped to Okanghudi Village the same day,” she relates. They would later learn that the koevoet (Boers) had come looking for them and surrounded Tate Enias’ homestead, demanding to know their whereabouts: “I always wonder what could have happen...

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