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South Africa has lost a true friend in the Passing of Cde Toivo Ya Toivo

9 June 2017

The African National Congress has received with profound sadness the news of the passing of Comrade Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo. A loyal friend of the South African people, a freedom fighter, hero and icon of Namibia's struggle for self determination, Comrade Toivo passed today at the age of 93.

Comrade Toivo ya Toivo was a founder member of the South Western African People's Organization (SWAPO) and its predecessor the Ovamboland People's Organization (OPO). A man of strong beliefs and convictions, Cde Toivo dedicated his life to the fight against oppression by the then South Africa authorities, rejecting apartheid South Africa's reduction of sovereign Namibia into its colony. He was Namibia's longest serving Robben Islander, having served 16 years on the Island with other luminaries of the African peoples' struggles following conviction for contravening South Africa's Terrorism Act. His life was the personification of solidarity, the quest for self-determination and unyielding commitment to the liberation of his people.

A Pan Africanist and progressive internationalist, Cde Toivo was a vocal and ardent supporter of the oppressed peoples of the world, leading from the front in, amongst others, the mobilization and call for the release of Africa's friends - some of whom fought in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale for Southern Africa's liberation - the Cuban Five Heroes from American jails.
He was also militant workerist who advocated for the rights of African and black mine workers in South Africa and Namibia and was banished from South Africa for smuggling taped testimonies to the United Nations (UN) about the harsh experiences of Black mine workers. Following his release from Robben Island in 1984, Cde Toivo committed himself to the building of a democratic Namibia serving as Secretary General of SWAPO and in various portfolios in Government.

South Africa has lost a true friend in Comrade Toivo ya Toivo and we send our deepest condolences to our fraternal organization, SWAPO, the people of Namibia and Comrade ya Toivo's family on his passing. Comrade Toivo has left an indelible mark in the history of our region and the continent. Ours is to emulate his life's work and continue to fight for the realization of his vision of freedom for oppressed peoples of the world and of a continent at peace with itself.

Issued by the African National Congress
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