HE Dr Zedekia J. Ngavirue (DPhil Politics 1967)

Zedekia Josef Ngavirue was a student St Antony’s College from 1967 to 1973.


Dr Zedekia Ngavirue, or Dr Zed, as he came to be known by those close to him, started his education at the Waterberg Primary School, Namibia, after which he completed his secondary school and teacher training at the Stofberg Gedenskool in South Africa and the Augustineum College in Okahandja, Namibia. He went on to train in South Africa as a social worker, and later studied in Sweden and at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

Diplomas and Degrees

Life and Political Activism in Windhoek

Dr Ngavirue worked as a social worker for the City of Windhoek Council from 1959 to 1960. He became active in politics and co-founded the first newspaper established by black Namibians, South West News, together with the late Emil Appolus. He was an adviser to the Herero Chiefs Council headed by Chief Katjikururume Hosea Kutako. In this role, he assisted in preparing letters and petitions to the United Nations, calling for the world body to intervene in Namibia. He worked closely with leading political personalities of the time, many of whom went on to play important roles in Namibia’s struggle for independence, such as H.E. the First President and Founding Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma.

Many innocent residents were shot in the Windhoek Old Location on 10-11 December 1959 by the police of the South African regime in Namibia, as they resisted being forcefully evicted from their homes in order to create more residential areas for Whites in Windhoek. Dr Ngavirue testified at the Commission of Inquiry into these events and, by so doing, came into direct conflict with the South African administration.

He left Namibia to go into exile in May 1961, taking his wife Ellis Bertha Boniswa and his three young children – Mbatjiua, Notemba and Uapuakuouje – with him. They stayed for a short while in Tanzania, where Dr Ngavirue met up with other Namibians, many of whom later played leading roles in the liberation struggle, including H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba, who later became the second President of the Republic of Namibia.

Academic Life

Whilst in Tanzania, Dr Ngavirue secured a scholarship to study in Sweden. He obtained a Fil.Kand (B.Phil) degree at Stockholm and Uppsala University in 1967. During his time in Sweden, he continued to play an important role as one of the Namibian petitioners to the United Nations UN Trusteeship Council, in 1961, 1966 and 1967. He was appointed as Senior Lecturer in African History and Political Science, at the University of Papua New Guinea, and taught there from 1972 to 1978. In 1975, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, Canberra.

Returning Home

Dr Ngavirue returned to Namibia in 1978 and served as Vice-President of The South West Africa National Union (SWANU) from 1978 to 1980.

He entered the business world, serving in the following positions:

He was a member of the Board of the South West African Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC) 1981-1982, and the first Chairman of the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) 1990-1995.

Political and Diplomatic Appointments

After Namibia’s Independence in 1990, Dr Ngavirue was appointed by President Sam Nujoma as the first Director-General of the National Planning Commission, serving in this capacity from 1990 to 1995. He was then made Namibia’s Ambassador to the European Union, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg (1996-2003). While in this post, he was also the Ambassadorial Spokesperson for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, during negotiations with the European Union on the Cotonou Agreement (1998-2000), which set out trade and economic agreements.

Dr Ngavirue also served in the following capacities:

Second Marriage

Dr Ngavirue’s wife Bertha passed away in February 2005. He married Mara Uazenga on 11 January 2015.

Special Envoy

The culmination of Dr Ngavirue’s career was his appointment in 2015 by President Hage G. Geingob as Namibia’s Special Envoy on Bilateral Negotiations between Namibia and Germany on Genocide, Apology and Reparations. For over five years, Dr Ngavirue devoted every waking hour and every ounce of his energy to this task, which culminated in a Draft Agreement initialled in 2021 by the Governments of Germany and Namibia.

He sadly succumbed to Covid in June 2021.

Obituary by Professor Peter Katjavivi (DPhil Politics 1980)