The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Tortured by the past

Can Namibian Lutherans free themselves from their liberators?

She doesn't look like a troublemaker, a destructive element or a spy. But Emma Kambangula is accused of being all three. And how her church and government deal with her — and several thousand like her — will shape the future of both.

During our interview Emma smiles easily, but it never lasts long. Her mind quickly returns to the seething, soaked dungeons where she was tortured for more than three years.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, tens of thousands of young Namibians — like Emma — went into exile in neighboring nations to join the South-West Africa People's Organization because it was fighting South African occupation. Many, like Emma, were members of Lutheran churches, which were strong allies of SWAPO. About half o f Namibia's 1.5 million population is Lutheran.

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February issue


Embracing diversity