ONGWEDIVA: Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Namibia, Nathaniel Ndaxuma Nakwatumbah has denied reports that his church has banned the singing of the national anthem when conducting services in the community.
Nakwatumbah stated the church’s views in a media statement availed to Nampa on Thursday. The statement was a response to dissatisfaction expressed by President Hifikepunye Pohamba in July that the church did not accord people attending the tombstone unveiling of Lukas Haleinge Nepela the opportunity to sing the national anthem.
Pohamba expressed his concern about the matter at the opening of the second phase of the Northern Railway Line Extension Project at Oshikango in the Ohangwena Region on 05 July.
The Head of State officiated at the tombstone unveiling, which took place on 30 June this year, because Nepela, a member of the Anglican Church, had participated in the liberation struggle. The Head of State last month noted that he has seen soldiers in uniform attending church services in England, where the roots of the Anglican Church in Namibia lie, and as such he demanded to know why the Namibian national anthem cannot be sung in the Anglican Church here.
At the time, local media reports had it that the retired Anglican Bishop Shihala Hamupembe, who was also present at the tombstone unveiling, said the church is not against singing the national anthem in the church or raising the national flag, but is against political songs and political flags.
Nakwatumbah in Thursday’s statement explained that the national anthem was not sung because of an omission in the drafting of the tombstone unveiling programme, which was a result of a misunderstanding between those who were in charge of organising the event.
“The Anglican Church in Namibia is a church of national anthems documented in our hymnal, the only Church that has documented national hymns that has been sung right from the colonial era up to date,” the Anglican Bishop explained.
He then referred to the hymns numbered 227 and 229 as the two anthems which have been documented in the Anglican Church hymnal since the liberation struggle, which he said served as “tools of political awakening” and which gave the church an identity here and in the rest of southern Africa.
Nakwatumbah pointed out that both the national flag of Namibia and the African Union flag are hoisted at the Anglican Church Hospital at the St Mary’s Mission of Odibo in the Ohangwena Region every morning.
The late Nepela, the Bishop said, was also a product of the Anglican school, which educated and influenced him and awakened his political conscience.
Retired Anglican Bishop Shihala shaHamupembe, with the blessing of the local leadership of the church, presided over the tombstone unveiling as was requested by members of the late Nepela’s family.
The unveiling took place at the Oshikango cemetery where Nepela was buried several years ago. He was one of the pioneers of Namibia’s liberation struggle as a member of the Ovamboland People’s Congress (OPC), which then became the Ovamboland People’s Organisation (OPO) and later developed into the Swapo-Party.