Pohamba, Hifikepunye

Pohamba, Hifikepunye hēfēkĕpo͞on´yä pōhäm´bä [key], 1935–, Namibia rebel and political leader. A miner, he was a founder of the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) and became (1960) an organizer for the group. His political activities led (1961) to his arrest, flogging, and forced exile. He went to Tanganyika (now Tanzania), where he worked with exiled SWAPO members and became a close associate of SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma. Returning to Namibia several times, Pohamba was repeatedly deported and jailed; he moved around Africa and assumed various SWAPO leadership posts. Pohamba returned to Namibia in 1989 and when it won independence from South Africa in 1990, he entered parliament and became minister of home affairs in Nujoma's government. He subsequently held other cabinet posts and in 2002 also became SWAPO's vice president. As President Nujoma's handpicked successor, Pohamba won the 2004 presidential election in a landslide, and was easily reelected five years later. In 2007 Pohamba also succeeded Nujoma as SWAPO party leader, serving until 2017.

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

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