Namibian left-wing politician, founder and leader of SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organization) from 1958, and Namibia's first president 1990–2005. He was exiled in 1960, and controlled SWAPO's armed struggle against the colonial power of South Africa from Angolan bases in 1966. When the first free elections were held in 1989 under the United Nations peace plan, he returned to lead his party to victory, taking office in March 1990. He was re-elected in 1994 and 1999 (for a final 5-year term). He was succeeded as president by Hifikepunye Pohamba, from his party, and remained leader of SWAPO.
Nujoma was exiled in 1960 after SWAPO appointed him to present the case for Namibian independence before the United Nations (UN). He set up SWAPO provisional headquarters in Tanzania in 1961 and, apart from a brief return home in 1966 when he was arrested and expelled, he remained in exile until 1989. He set up a military wing, the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), in the mid-1960s to take on South African forces. SWAPO was recognized as the legitimate authority by the Organization of African Unity (OAU; later African Union) in 1968 and by the UN in 1973, but South African opposition delayed the implementation of the UN peace plan.
As president, he inherited a country where, under South Africa's policy of apartheid, the best resources were reserved for whites, and he initiated a gradualist programme of land reform and redistribution to the black majority.
Born in Ongandjern, in the north of Namibia near the Angolan border, Nujoma was educated at a Finnish missionary school in Windhoek, and joined the state railways before entering politics, co-founding SWAPO in 1958.
First President of Namibia A bitter hundred-year struggle against colonial rule came to a close on March 21, 1990, when Sam Nujoma was sworn in...
1929- Namibian statesman, president 1990-2005. A founder and leader of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) from 1959, Nujoma...