For 99-year-old Elizabeth Iilonga, a Tsumeb resident, Heroes' Day holds special significance as her four children and one grandchild selflessly dedicated their lives to Namibia's liberation struggle.

Iilonga, affectionately known as Kuku Nekulu, in an interview with the Namibia Press Agency (Nampa), commended the Namibian Government for officially designating August 26 as a day of commemoration.

The date holds deep significance for her as it memorialises the sacrifices of her children and grandson in the pursuit of a free Namibia.

Kuku Nekulu, who turned 99, moved to Tsumeb in 1962 in search of a better life.

There, she was employed as a domestic worker and later became mother to Simon 'Zhu' Iilonga Mbako, Selma Iilonga, and Elias Iilonga, and grandmother to Tobias 'Tjo-Tjo' Iilonga.

Sadly, Elias Iilonga died during the liberation struggle, while Simon and Selma died after Namibia gained independence.

"I lost my husband in 1984, and I was looking forward to the children coming back and taking care of me."

Iilonga said she was proud of her children when they were in exile.

"They used to write letters while in exile, and I was always happy to hear about their whereabouts. With UN Resolution 435, I was waiting for my children. But war is war; some of them came back, but one perished in the war. I was not the only one who lost children. The aim was independence!"

Iilonga said she is grateful to the people who fought in the liberation struggle, wishing them God's blessings.

A grandson Tobias 'Tjo-Tjo' Iilonga, Nekulu's grandson and a former fighter for the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), was an active member of the Swapo Party in Tsumeb during the 1960s, and her dedication inspired them to join the PLAN fighters under the leadership of Ruben 'Danger' Ashipala.

The aim was to free Namibia.

He spoke fondly of her caring nature, mentioning that she played a nurturing role for individuals such as the Minister of Labour and Employment Creation, Utoni Nujoma, during the liberation struggle.

Aina Kuutondokwa, Nekulu's remaining daughter, recounted instances of her mother being interrogated by apartheid authorities whenever she hosted or sheltered high-profile Swapo.

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