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Namibia mourns anti-apartheid campaigner

Timothy Jones with AP
June 25, 2017

Namibia has held a state funeral for Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, a key figure in the nation's bid for independence. Ya Toivo was jailed for 16 years by South Africa's minority white government.

Andimba Toivo ya Toivo namibischer Menschenrechtler
Image: Getty Images/AFP/B Weidlich

Namibia has held a memorial service for its national hero Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, one of the seminal figures in a movement that eventually brought the country independence in 1990.

Ya Toivo died June 9 at the age of 92.

In a speech at a state funeral held in the capital, Windhoek, on Saturday, President Hage Geinbob described ya Toivo as a "symbol of defiance against tyranny and oppression."

Arrested in 1966 by South African authorities - who administered what was then South West Africa - for "terrorism" because of his pro-independence activities, ya Toivo spent 18 years in prison, 16 of them on the notorious Robben Island, where his personal friend and later South African President Nelson Mandela was also held.

After his release in 1984, he rejoined the anti-apartheid movement Swapo, which he co-founded, in exile in Lusaka, Zambia. Swapo evolved into Namibia's ruling party after independence in 1990, and ya Toivo served as a member of parliament and a Cabinet minister in the government of President Sam Nujoma before retiring in 2006.

Ya Toivo was buried at Heroes Acre, a burial site on the outskirts of Windhoek.

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