Today In African History: May 22: Namibia Gains Independence (1990)

On May 22, 1990, Namibia officially joined the United Nations as its 160th member state following its independence from South African rule on March 21, 1990. This marked the end of a long and brutal struggle for freedom that had spanned several decades.

Historical Context

Namibia’s path to independence was fraught with conflict and hardship. Initially colonized by Germany in the late 19th century, the territory, known as South West Africa, fell under South African administration after World War I. South Africa imposed its apartheid policies on Namibia, leading to widespread resistance.

Memorable Events

  1. The Role of SWAPO: The South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), founded in 1960, became the leading force in the struggle for independence. Under the leadership of Sam Nujoma, SWAPO launched a guerrilla war against South African forces in 1966, which continued for more than two decades.

  2. International Pressure: The Namibian independence movement gained significant international support, particularly from the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). In 1978, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 435, calling for free elections in Namibia under UN supervision, a pivotal step towards independence.

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