- Namibian Environment and Tourism Minister, Philemon Malima, in a ceremony opened and renamed an entrance and exit point at the Etosha National Park. The move is expected to increase tourism to the popular national park in the dry grasslands of northern Namibia.
At the renaming ceremony, Minister Malima said participants were witnessing "yet another milestone in our efforts to accomplish 'Vision 2030', which outlines our progression towards the achievement of universally acceptable and satisfactory social and economic development for our country and people."
The Minister did the official opening of the new northern boundary inlet and outlet of the Etosha National Park, which was formally known as the "Andoni Gate". The gate was renamed "King Nehale Lya Mpingana Gate", according to a statement released by the Namibian government today.
Added Minister Malima: "With this new tourism gateway, we open new opportunities to the northern regions to promote cultural tourism. Tourists into Etosha National Park will now be able to take regular excursions into your regions to enjoy cultural products. We hope that the people of this region will seize this opportunity to enter into the tourism industry."
- We are in actual fact here today to open a new page of introducing the most neglected industry in this part of our country, which is tourism industry, said Mr Malima. He added that Namibia needed to increase its efforts to become part of the growing worldwide tourism industry, "is slowly becoming the bread-basket for many developing economies."
Also in Namibia, the tourism industry was of growing importance, the Minister outlined. Government statistics showed that more than 920,000 foreigners had visited Namibia during the year 2002 compared to 860,000 in 2001.
Generally, tourist arrivals to Namibia had increased by 31.2 percent since 1996, says Mr Malima, "a fact that demonstrates the continuing healthy state of our tourism sector, in the medium to long term." Consequently, more jobs were being created to "satisfy the increasing demand for additional services, while foreign exchange earnings are generated to stimulate economic growth."
King Nehale Lya Mpingana
The Minister also put great emphasis on explaining why the gate had been given its new name. King Nehale Lya Mpingana of the Ondonga tribe in 1904 had "selected the best and bravest of his soldiers and launched a devastating and fierce attack on the German colonial troops at Fort Namutoni," explained Mr Malima. The Ondonga king had passed through the site of the gate with his soldiers.
As soon as the Germans had noticed the Ondonga armed men surrounding them, they opened fire. The battle of Namutoni lasted for the whole day, and in spite of causalities, King Nehale's soldiers succeeded to capture Fort Namutoni. The German soldiers run out of ammunition and under the cover of night fled the Fort to Tsumeb. King Nehale's soldiers thus captured abandoned German cattle, wagons and carts and left.
Many years afterwards, the Germans still demanded the return of the cattle and wagons Nehale's soldiers seized from them. But they were never returned. Until his death in 1908, King Nehale Lya Mpingana totally refused to pay any compensation for the attack on Namutoni. Thus, the Ondonga King had become a hero of Namibia's resistance against colonialism.
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