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Sam Nujoma

(b. 1929)


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(b. 12 Mar. 1929).

President of Namibia 1990–2004 Born in Ongandjera of the most populous people of Namibia, the Ovambo. An early opponent of apartheid and South African rule, he founded the socialist South‐West African People's Organization (SWAPO) in 1959, which was carried largely by Ovambo support. Operating from Zambia and Angola (since 1975), its support from the Angolan government and Cuban troops guaranteed its survival against the South African army, which at times penetrated deep into Angolan territory. Following a successful Cuban offensive against South African troops in early 1988, P. W. Botha decided that South Africa could never win the guerrilla war, and accepted Namibian independence. In the parliamentary elections of 7–11 November 1989, SWAPO gained 57 per cent of the vote. Nujoma became President on Independence Day, 21 March 1990. In the presidential and parliamentary elections of 7– 8 December 1994, he was confirmed in office with 72.7 per cent, which ensured a two‐thirds majority for SWAPO, enabling it to change the Constitution. In the 1999 elections SWAPO even increased its majority, to 55 out of 72 seats. Nujoma was concerned to withstand pressure to expropriate white farmers, but struggled to maintain national unity as he was faced with public discontent in the outlying Caprivi region. In 2005, he made way for his successor, Hifik epunye Pohamba, also from SWAPO.

Subjects: African Studies — Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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