What 10 December Means to Namibia

December 10 is Human Rights Day and it is on this day, in 1948, that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a foundation of the very system of democracy that citizens in our two countries hold dear.

In Namibia, the day serves as both International Human Rights Day and Namibian Women’s Day. The day stands as a Namibian reminder of past human rights as well as the significant role played by women in the struggle for the restoration of these rights.

In 1959 a police shooting took place where thirteen unarmed demonstrators were killed, among them one woman. More than 40 were wounded as they resisted forced removal from an area known as the Old Location.
The Old Location was an area segregated for Black residents of the capital city of Windhoek. It was situated in the area between today’s suburbs of Hochland Park and Pioneers Park.

The inhabitants of the settlement on the western edge of the city protested against the planned relocation to a new neighbourhood 5 km north of Windhoek which is called it Katutura, in OtjiHerero « the place where there is no staying ».

During a peaceful protest in Windhoek, women marched to present a petition to the administrator and magistrate. But it was refused. In response, protestors blockaded the municipal beer hall in the Old Location. Police intervention led to a conflict resulting in 13 deaths, including a woman, and 44 injuries. This marked the first violent action by the apartheid regime against black resistance, preceding the Sharpeville massacre by three months.

This was the start of the liberation struggle: many leading figures, including Sam Nujoma, the later SWAPO leader and first president of independent Namibia, went into exile to organise armed resistance.

Today, the 10th of December continues to be commemorated as Humans Rights Day and Day of Namibian Women. It is a public Holiday which allows many Namibians to stay home and not go to work. More importantly, the day serves as a reminder of the start of Namibia’s Liberation Struggle.



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