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Thousands Celebrate Anniversary of First Battle for Independence

August 27, 1989

WINDHOEK, Namibia (AP) _ Thousands of people rallied Sunday to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of a guerrilla movement’s armed struggle against South African rule in Namibia.

″It has been a bitter war with thousands of young lives lost,″ Nahas Angula, chief education officer of the South-West Africa People’s Organization, told several thousand people outside Windhoek, the capital. ″But at the end we can see the light of freedom emerging.″

Guerrillas of the independence movement launched their first attack against the South African-led security forces on Aug. 26, 1966, in the northern town of Omgulumbashe. The movement is now favored to become Namibia’s first independent government.

The movement held a rally Saturday in Omgulumbashe and another Sunday in Katatura, the black township outside Windhoek.

More than 20,000 people, mostly guerrillas, were killed in the bush war. The black nationalist fighters never were able to maintain bases in Namibia and suffered about 10 casualties for every one inflicted upon the security forces.

″When we started the armed struggle, all the odds were against us,″ said Angula.

South Africa, which has ruled Namibia since 1915, agreed in December to relinquish control of the territory under a regional peace accord signed with Angola and its Cuban allies. The accord calls for Cuba to conduct a phased withdrawal of its 50,000 soldiers from Angola.

South Africa has been implementing a yearlong independence plan for Namibia under U.N. supervision. Elections are planned for November and independence is expected early next year.

The guerrilla movement is favored to win the elections.

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