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Heroes Acre

Windhoek | Namibia

From the 7th August 1884 to 21st March 1990 (105 years 226 days) Namibia was under continued colonial occupation. The final hurdle for independence took over 43 years to overcome, of which 23 years and 225 days were spent in armed conflict.

Heroes Acre is an official war memorial of the government of Namibia and is located in the Auas Mountains, less than 10km south of the capital city of Windhoek. The idea for such a memorial was suggested by the founding father, President Sam Nujoma on a visit to Zimbabwe in 1997. Mansudae Overseas Projects, a company from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), was given the contract to build the 732 acre monument. The inauguration of the Heroes Acre Monument was on the 26th August 2002, celebrated annually as Heroes Day.

This national monument operates for the purpose of 'fostering a spirit of patriotism and nationalism and to pass on the legacy to the future generations of Namibia' and is the place where Namibian heroes and heroines are honoured and remembered. Heroes Acre is regarded as 'sanctified ground' and visitors are reminded of this and expected to behave in a respectful and dignified manner.

Commemorative sites at Heroes Acre include:

The Entrance Gates: As you approach Heroes Acre, the entrance gates are flanked by 2 kneeling women offering bouquets of flowers, a symbolic welcoming gesture in true Namibian tradition.

The Obelisk: At 34m high, the obelisk is the focal point of the monument. The bravery, courage and perseverance of those who participated in Namibia's long and fierce liberation battle is represented at the rear by a Copper Mural which takes on the appearance of a sword.

The Unknown Soldier: A statue 8m high, cast in bronze in the form of a warrior, represents all Namibians who died in the struggle for independence from colonial rule. It weighs 4 tons. The soldier is carrying an AK 47 assault rifle, the most reliable and effective small arm of the era, the standard weapon of (PLAN) the People's Liberation Army of Namibia. An anti-tank grenade is brandished in his right hand. The wording underneath the soldier and on the front face of the pedestal are a cast replica of President Sam Nujoma's own hand-writing. It serves as a symbolic resting place for all sons and daughters of Namibia who gave their lives during the liberation struggle. It states:

'Glory to the fallen Heroes and Heroines of the motherland Namibia! Sam Nujoma 26th August 2002'.

The Pedestal: Soil samples from the mass graves at Cassinga in Angola, Ongulumbashe in Namibia and Oshatotwa in Zambia have been placed beneath the pedestal.

The Bronze Mural: A bronzed mural illustrates the struggle of indigenous Namibians. Viewed from left to right the, the 4 plates depict:

  • The suffering and oppression under Imperial Germany's colonial rule from 1884 to 1915. The Herero nation suffered near extinction in the 1904-1907 uprising.
  • Petitioning the United Nations for Independence from the South African occupation in the early 1960's at the onset of apartheid policies.
  • The 26th of August 1966 was when SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organization) attacked a contingent of South Africa forces at Ongulumbashe in the northern Omusati Region of Namibia. A state of war now existed between PLAN and the South African apartheid regime, a fight that would last for the best part of 30 years.
  • 'Freedom Fight We Have Won' was sung victoriously on the 21st March 1990, when the flag of South Africa was lowered and the national flag of Namibia was raised for the first time. The mural is completed with the Unknown Soldier leading victorious fighters into Namibia. A mother and child at the rear are praising them for their bravery and sacrifices.

The Eternal Flame: 'Represents the undying spirit of freedom and recognition of the ultimate sacrifice that all of the fallen sons and daughters made for Namibia'. Provision has been made for 170 resting places at Heroes Acre. There are 9 symbolic graves of: Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi, Kaptein Jacob Marenga, Chief Kahimemua Nguvauva, Chief Samuel Maharero, Chief Nehale Iya Mpingana, Chief Mandume ya Ndemufayo, Chief Ipumbu ya Tshilongo, Chief Hosea Kutako, Mama Kakarakuze Mungunda.

Many notable Namibians from the colonial era are also honoured at Heroes Acre including:

  • Hosea Kutako - a famous Namibian freedom fighter.
  • Jacob Marenga - a revolutionary Nama leader.
  • Samuel Maharero - the family grave at Okahandja is now the site of a national monument.
  • Markus Kooper - a war veteran who left his wife and family and went to the UN headquarters in New York from Hoachanas to fight for the independence of his country.
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