Story by George Sanzila
Windhoek – Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi recalled his last moments with his late wife, in a moving tribute he delivered during a memorial service that was held on Thursday (18/08/22) to honour her memory. Jane Katjavivi lost her life in the presence of her husband while in- flight from the United Kingdom to Namibia on the 9th of August 2022. She was 70 years old.
Narrating the heartrending experience, Speaker Katjavivi noted that several attempts by doctors onboard the plane to resuscitate his wife proved to be futile. “The tragedy happened while we were making our way home from the UK to Namibia, having transited via Frankfurt. While flying over Angola, I noticed that my dear Jane, who sat next to me was non responsive. At this point I alerted the airline personnel who helped to take her out of her seat and lay her on the floor to perform emergency CPR procedures. The two medical doctors on board the airline joined to try to resuscitate her but to no avail”, narrated the clearly heartbroken Speaker.
Hon. Katjavivi recounted that shortly after efforts to resuscitate his wife had failed and doctors informed him that there was no hope, he became numb. “One of the doctors onboard informed me that she was not getting oxygen to her brain and that was a major source of concern. Around 6:40am, doctors informed me that there was no hope and she was no more with us. From there on, I was given the opportunity to be with her alone to gather myself to come to terms with the great loss. It was during this time, I had the opportunity to kneel by her side, smoothen her hair and take off wedding rings and the watch, while her body was still warm. This moment hit me most, as it reminded me of the vows, till death do us part”, recalled Katjavivi.
In a message delivered on his behalf, H.E. President Hage Geingob described Mrs. Katjavivi as a humanitarian who assisted many Southern African students during the dark days of apartheid. “From her first job as a Scholarship Officer with the World University Service in London, Madame Katjavivi demonstrated her innate humanitarian nature. She helped raise funds for students from Southern Africa who had been denied an education by the racist apartheid regime. After learning of the Namibian people’s struggle for liberation, she became an ardent supporter of Swapo and the fight for independence”, stated Geingob.
Hon. Katjavivi met his wife in London in the 1970’s when he headed the Swapo office responsible for UK and western Europe. At the time she worked for the World University Service that assisted many students from Southern Africa including Namibia with scholarships. Madame Katjavivi would eventually become a member of staff within the London Swapo office. The two married in 1981 in Oxford and continued to be part of the struggle for freedom and independence of Namibia.
They returned to Namibia in 1989 shortly before the country’s independence. Jane Katjavivi is a renowned author, former publisher and editor. Her publishing house focused mainly on promoting literature centered on social justice. She was also involved in a number of other commitments including setting up the UNAM Press and serving institutions such as the FNB Foundation and the Cheetah Foundation among many other voluntary institutions.
Many Speakers at the gathering including the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Loide Kasingo described Katjavivi as a selfless and dependable person who played a big part during the days of the struggle and post-independence. Other notable tributes came from the Founding President Sam Nujoma and former President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, Speaker of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, the Parliament of South Africa, Embassy of the State of Palestine, the embassy of the Republic of Venezuela and SADC-PF among others. Other dignitaries at the service included Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, Diplomats, Chief Justice Peter Shivute, cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament.
She is survived by her husband, two children and grandchildren. Katjavivi will be buried at the Pioneer’s Park cemetery on Saturday (20/08/2022).