Sam Nujoma

Nujoma, Sam (Samuel Daniel Shafiishuna Nujoma)nōyōˈmä, 1929–, Namibian political leader. A railway worker in what was then the South African mandate of South West Africa, Nujoma became the head of the Owambo People's Organization in 1959, which opposed South African rule and its extension of apartheid to the territory. The following year the organization was renamed the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), and Nujoma went into exile. He led SWAPO forces from exile, securing international recognition and ultimately South West Africa's independence. He returned in 1989 and became Namibia's first president (1990). Generally a moderate leader who has emphasized economic development, he was reelected in 1994 but was criticized for having the constitution changed so that he could be elected to a third term in 1999. He also has been accused by some former compatriots of being intolerant of dissent within SWAPO. After he stepped down as president in 2005 Nujoma continued as party leader until 2007.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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