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The Namibian War of Independence, which lasted from 1966 to 1988, was a guerrilla war which the nationalistSouth-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) and others fought against the apartheid government of South Africa. It was closely intertwined with the South African Border War.

South Africa had administered what was then still known as South West Africa since it captured the German territory during World War I and subsequently received a League of Nations mandate to administer the territory. In 1966 the United Nations General Assembly, successor to the League of Nations, revoked South Africa’s mandate to govern South-West African territory and declared that it was under direct UN administration. South Africa refused to recognize this resolution and continued to administer the territory de facto.

On August 26, 1966, SWAPO guerilla forces launched an attack against the South African Defence Force at Omugulugwombashe. It was the first armed battle in the Namibian struggle for independence. In commemoration of the day, August 26 is a public holiday in Namibia. It is recognized by the United Nations as Namibia Day but Namibians refer to it as Heroes’ Day.

The war ended with the New York Accords signed on December 22, 1988, which also ended direct involvement of foreign troops in the Angolan Civil War. Independence came to Namibia on 21 March 1990 following elections which saw SWAPO win 55 of 72 seats in the National Assembly of Namibia, enabling them to form a national government.

Happy Independence Day to all Namibians!

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