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Heroes' Acre

Heroes' Acre

Heroes' Acre

Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990 and prior to that it was ruled by Germany from 1884 to 1915 when it was taken over by South Africa after Germanys defeat in World War 1. Like a lot of African countries its independence was a struggle which saw the rise of scores of freedom fighters, including Hendrik Witbooi who was instrumental in the Nama uprisings against German rule. The struggles and stories of Witbooi and others are remembered at Heroes' Acre memorial just south of Windhoek. The enormous monument is situated at the foot of the Auas Mountains and was inaugurated in 2002 by former state president Sam Nujoma.

The monument, which was designed by a North Korean firm: Mansudae Overseas Projects and built by workers from the same country, is highlighted by a 15 metre high marble obelisk and an 8 metre high bronze statue of a heavily armed soldier representing the Unknown Soldier. Although these are a visual centrepiece, the main focus of the memorial are the tombs for 174 Namibian heroes, whose names and pictures are engraved in black marble. Some tombs are still open providing space for future heroes. The entire site took 13 months to construct and covers a total area of over 732 hectares. It houses the 174 graves, is 286 meters long and has a width of 134 meters. Heroes Acre has a parking area of almost 10000 square meters while a three-kilometre long palisade fence protects the site. The memorial has extensive parade grounds and grandstands for an audience of over 5000 people. At the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the obelisk, visitors will find an eternal flame burning which burns 24 hours a day every day.

The date, 26 August 2002 marked the inauguration of the monument but is also remembered by a Namibian public holiday known as Heroes Day. Heroes Day marks the begging of the armed struggle of SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organization) against South African forces. In his inaugural statement, President Sam Nujoma stated that The Heroes' Acre was a place for all Namibians irrespective of their political, racial, ethnic or religious background to come and honour those sons and daughters of Namibian soil who sacrificed their lives, and those who, during their lifetimes, made great and meaningful contributions to the liberation of the land of the Brave and all her people in their diversity. He told the attendees that the monument was built as a token of honour to the fallen heroes and heroines. It was built in the true African tradition of bestowing honour to their forefathers and mothers.

Heroes Acre is regarded as by a large portion of the population as sanctified ground and visitors are reminded of this and expected to behave in a respectful and dignified manner.

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