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1 December 1940 to 13 March 2018

Today we commemorate and honor the life and times of a true diplomat, a fearless daughter of the Namibian soil, an African woman who lived by her convictions and did so truthfully.

Her wit – razor sharp, her laughter – highly contagious, her spirit – inextinguishable.  She turns 80 today, and she lives still…in everything.

Mother, grandmother, lover, revolutionary, leader, diplomat.

Happy Birthday Ambassador Nora Schimming Chase

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There is a greater truth than mine, there is a truth of Namibian History… 

I was there also. This is my story.

Nora Schimming-Chase

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'Aunty' Nora mapped out an extensive vision to tell the story of her own life as part of the great tapestry of Namibia's history. She was never able to finish her book.

'Nora's Namibia' is a project to capture and share her story, impact and vision with all would love to know more about this remarkable woman.

Working from her personal notes, recordings and public materials, this project aims to finish what she started and bring her legacy together in one place.

You can view the Nora's idea for the book here

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By Nora (2014)

This book is dedicated to the women who made me what I am today. My maternal great grand mother, my Herero and Damara grandmothers Metha Ngatjikare and Christofine Gamamus both of whom lived during the German occupation and gave birth to children whose fathers were German, and who were forced by German and South African occupation to bring up these children on their own. And despite these challenges these children made history in their own right.

My wonderful mother, Charlotte Schimming, my role model, who taught her daughters to always recognize their own work never to feel inferior to anybody be they white or male.

And to my father Otto Ferdinand Schimming the greatest gender sensitive man I have ever known whose contribution to the struggle for the liberation of my people remains unwritten.

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"I was born on the 2nd of December 1940 (or so we all agreed) until I was twenty years old when we realized that that was the birth date of my late brother Norman who died before I was born and in whose memory was named Nora.

So I celebrated my 21st birthday on the 1st of December, for the first time. I was the 5th of eight children, four boys and four girls.

As has been and still is the practice in our black communities, we were not the only ones. My cousins, the sons of my maternal aunts, Mamma Goka and Mamma Grete, as well as the son of my uncle Rudolf, my aunt Huldà Kamboi Ngatjikare and a distant cousin Ismael Tjombe formed part of the nuclear family. Apart from us, my parents brought two young boys, Filemon and Josef to help in the house.

I grew up in this large family with the good and the bad and yet looking back seventy plus years, the good memories are clear in my mind whereas the bad ones seem to have disappeared into oblivion."

 - Nora Schimming Chase

Nora was born in Windhoek on 1st December 1940, the fifth of 8 children in the Schimming family,  living in Old Location for a number of years and whilst they were classified as Coloureds, she related that she was more Herero, Damara and German than Coloured.  Her early days are described as full of life and lots of fun! In her recording of the early days she relates an event where after Standard 6 in those days there were not sufficient schools for Coloureds in Namibia), they would take the train to Cape Town to go to school.

My mother did not believe in ‘I am the person, I can do that’, she was a very strong willed, active woman, and she wouldn’t accept ‘no’ as an answer, and she wouldn’t just give up, she’ll  go as far as she can.

She made it always look as if my father was the boss, but even if it came to petty cash, my mother used to hold the purse.”

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Outstanding Namibian Servant’ - H. E. Dr. H.G. Geingob, Namibian Sun Newspaper, 14th March 2018

Completing high school in South Africa, Nora became active in student politics, she finished her first degree at University of Cape Town.

Her exile started in Tanzania, housed by fellow Namibians before moving on to Germany.  This is where she met and married Saint Lucian Dr. William Macdonald Chase.  

They had two children in Berlin before she was recalled to Tanzania in 1974 where their son Kweku was born. 

Amnesty granted in 1978 brought Nora home, and signaled the end of her marriage.

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Nora was recalled by SWANU to Namibia and became Deputy Secretary General of the party in 1979.  There she joined the Council of Churches in Namibia, setting up the legal aid unit and was responsible for education. 

At the same time, she continued with active politics. Elected as  Secretary General of SWANU in 1981, she represented the party at international conferences on the liberation of Namibia between 1981 and 1986.


In 1987, she took up a post at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, as the Deputy Director of the WCC Commission on Interchurch Aid, Refugee and World Service.

1989 brought her back home as the Foreign Secretary and Campaign Director of the Namibia National Front.

After Independence, she joined the Ministry of foreign Affairs as the Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs.

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She served as a successful career diplomat for the better part of the nineties.  Chargée d’Affaires in Paris, France, and then her key posting as Ambassador to Germany, Austria and Poland from 1992 - 1996.  After her recall in 1996, she was awarded the German National Order of Merit (First Class) in recognition of her contribution to fostering links between the two countries.  Back in Namibia as Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she coordinated Namibia’s presence at Expo ‘98 in Lisbon, Portugal in her capacity as Deputy Section Commissioner General for Namibia.  In 1999, she reentered party politics, joining opposition party COD (Congress of Democrats), which she named.

“I see my task as presenting Namibia as a young democratic African country which, under Your Excellency’s able leadership, is bent on promoting the welfare of all Namibians.  I am departing for my new post at a time of great drought in our country.  Seeking solutions to and assistance for this dilemma will be my first - albeit not my sole - preoccupation.

My focus will be on development - promoting investment and increasing trade between Namibia and Germany.  Tourism, Comrade President, is another area which promises increased revenue for our country, and it is here that Your Excellency’s Embassy in Germany can play a vital role in bringing more tourists to Namibia."

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“Wherever Nora Schimming-Chase had served, she made a difference; service with diligence was her single purpose; Loyalty to her country was her defining characteristic. She was a bright woman, full of life. She was a constant source of encouragement to junior staff members and sound advice for her colleagues, [...]. The Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation is immensely proud to have been associated with Ambassador Schimming-Chase and we are grateful for her service. She left an indelible mark.” 

Statement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Relations and Cooperation, March 2018

Article - Portrait of a Diplomat

German article

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