SWAPO’S VERSION OF HISTORY IN NAMIBIA
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This study aims to explain how the history of Namibia is shaped by the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), the political party which has led the fight for Namibia’s independence for several decades and remains in power up to the present. This political party represented the most effective way for an oppressed people to express their unwillingness to live under the repressive conditions of the apartheid regime of South Africa. The ideas of ultimate liberation from all kinds of oppression and the empowerment of all people were rooted in SWAPO’s constitution. However, during the years of armed struggle and exile, the party itself punished very harshly its own members and controlled all aspects of the life of its subjects. There are several recorded accounts of the abuse of power by SWAPO’s elites and even rape cases. Unlike in South Africa, SWAPO instead of national reconciliation decided to forget those events and highlighted the atrocities committed by their enemies. In fact, SWAPO is attempting to create its own version of history, glorifying its role in national liberation. An independence memorial museum, Heroes’ Acre or a biography of Sam Nujoma are tokens of this practice. In this study, I compare some of the official versions of history with external sources covering the stories which the government is trying so desperately to silence. These practices may be called negative historical revisionism or historical negativism and, to a certain degree, they affect the identity of Namibians.
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