Samuel Daniel “Shafiishuna” Nujoma was born on 12 May, 1929 at Etunda, a village in Ongandjera, near the town of Okahao, Ovamboland, Southwest Africa to Helvi Mpingana Kondombolo. He is a Namibian revolutionary, anti-apartheid activist and politician who served three terms as the first President of Namibia, from 1990 to 2005. Nujoma was a founding member and the first president of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) in 1960. He played an important role as leader of the national liberation movement in campaigning for Namibia’s independence from South African rule. He established the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) in 1962 and launched a guerrilla war against the apartheid government of South Africa in 1966, beginning after the United Nations withdrew the mandate for South Africa to govern the territory. Nujoma led SWAPO during the lengthy Namibian War of Independence, which lasted from 1966 to 1989.
Nujoma became involved in anti-colonial politics during the 1950s. In 1959, he co-founded and served as the first president of the Ovamboland People’s Organization (OPO), a nationalist organization advocating an independent Namibia. In December 1958 he was an organizer of the Old Location resistance and was arrested and deported to Ovamboland. In 1960 he escaped and went into exile in Tanzania where he was welcomed by Julius Nyerere.
Sam became involved in politics in the early 1950s through trade unions. His political outlook was shaped by his work experiences, his awareness of the contract labour system, and his increasing knowledge of the independence campaigns across Africa. In 1957, at age 29, He resigned from SAR so he could devote more time to politics. In 1957, a group of Namibians working in Cape Town led by Andimba Toivo ya Toivo formed the Ovamboland People’s Congress (OPC).
After breaking away from SWANU, OPO reconstituted itself as the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) in New York on 19 April 1960, Nujoma was elected president in absentia. He arrived in New York in June 1960 where he petitioned before the Sub Committee of the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations. He demanded that South West Africa be given its independence by 1963 at the latest. He then returned to Tanganyika in 1961, from where he and a small group of activists would develop SWAPO into an international force.