Andimba Toiyo ya Toivo sits on a bench in the famous courtyard of Section-B at Robben Island Museum, where he had previously spent 16 years incarcerated alongside other freedom fighters such as Nelson Mandela and Govan Mbeki. Picture: Leon Lestrade/ANA Pictures
Ondangwa – Hundreds of people were on hand on Thursday to receive the body of struggle icon, Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, at the Ondangwa Airport for the memorial service set to take place there on Friday afternoon.

Ya Toivo died on June 9 in the capital Windhoek at the age of 92. His body was flown in a military passenger airplane from Windhoek to Ondangwa, where Ya Toivo had started his political activism before his arrest in 1966 for his political activities. His wife Vicky accompanied the body.

The memorial service will take place at the Ondangwa Trade Fair Centre. Amongst those that received Ya Toivo's body were Oshana Regional Governor, Clemens Kashuupulwa, Governor of Ohangwena, Usko Nghaamwa, and Oshikoto Regional Governor, Henock Kankoshi.

Minister of Safety and Security, Retired Major-General Charles Namoloh, former Defence Minister Nahas Angula and several war veterans of the liberation struggle were also present. Born at the Omangundu village in the Onyaanya District of the Oshikoto Region, Ya Toivo was an anti-apartheid activist, politician and political prisoner who was active in the pre-independence movement.

He was a co-founder of the South West African People's Organisation in 1960, and its predecessor, the Ovamboland People's Organisation in 1959. Ya Toivo served 16 years in prison on Robben Island in South Africa, in the same section as former South African president, the late Nelson Mandela.

He was released from prison in 1984 and rejoined Swapo in exile in Lusaka, Zambia, before returning to Namibia in 1989 where he served as a Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister until 2006 when he retired from active politics.

A modern business complex named after Ya Toivo was constructed here five years ago on the spot where his house and several cucashops he owned were situated in the central business district of town.

A street and a senior secondary school at Ondangwa are also named after him. Ya Toivo will be buried in a State funeral at the Heroes' Acre in Windhoek on 24 June 2017.