The Media Institute of Southern Africa has honored a leading Namibian human rights defender with its Freedom of Expression Award. Phil ya Nangoloh, founder of the National Society for Human Rights, has been an activist for the past 26 years.
From Windhoek, ya Nangoloh spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about some of the obstacles he faced over the past quarter century.
“ When I look back, sometimes I was faced with the possibility of fiscal elimination by members of the Namibian security forces in this country. But that did not help to deter me. I continued fighting. Because of this fight I have now earned respect and support not only of the people who we are trying to serve in this country, but also around the world. As I would like to say, I have been getting my courage from my critics, mainly in the government, and my supporters, who are mainly impoverished Namibians,” he says.
Asked what keeps him going after 26 years of criticizing some of Africa’s most powerful leaders, he says, “My thirst for justice combined with courage and perseverance and determination really kept me going all these years. And I’m determined to go much further as long as I’m alive.”
Ya Nangoloh says that he shares his award with his colleagues at the National Society for Human Rights. In his acceptance speech, he writes, “Clearly, the right to both private and public expression is an essential component to maintaining awareness throughout our society. A free media allows for greater diversity of ideas and helps people be actively engaged in democracy.”