Ovaherero to Gather in South Africa

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By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro WINDHOEK A STRONG Ovaherero contingent from both Namibia and Botswana led by their respective traditional leaders, among them Chief Kaumo Johannes Maharero from the Mahalapye District in Botswana and Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako, will join South Africans of Namibian-Ovaherero descent in South Africa this Saturday for a fourth annual cultural get-together. The event, organised by the Ovaherero Descendants Foundation in the Republic of South Africa, is this year being held under the theme: Projects for Ovaherero Descendants in Diaspora for Development and Self-sustainability. The celebration has been initiated by Chief Maharero to keep the Ovaherero tradition and culture alive . This year, it will take place at the village of Motlhasedi near the Palala River in the Limpopo Province, 30 kilometres from the Botswana Martinsdrift border post in the Mokopane-Lephalale Corridor. The village is historical for receiving and hosting Ovaherero who fled the German-Ovaherero war in the early 19th Century. A Setswana-speaking village, it is today also home to descendants of the Ovaherero estimated at about 200 today. The village resembles another village, Makopong in Botswana, which is home to Batswana of Namibian descent. Last year, the Ovambanderu led by their Senior Chief, Erastus Tjiundikua Kahuure, visited Makopong to foster ties with their fellow descendants. At the time of the Ovambanderu visit to Makopong, the Ovaherero-Ovambanderu descendants, who have established a cultural organisation called Ritungee (Let’s Develop Ourselves), pointed out their greatest craving as the restoration of their culture, especially their language. The President of Ritungee, Moses Tjombumbi, in an emotional plea appealed to the government of Botswana to introduce the teaching of Otjiherero in schools. Passionate songsters singing in Otjiherero, few of them had any idea what they were singing about. They were the descendants of the clans of Tjiroze, Kahuure, Hange, Kandjou, Hangero, Mbimbo, Kamai, Kapepo and Tjingoromena and are among the Tswana of Ovambanderu/Namibian origin who live in Botswana and South Africa. These Ovambanderu, who refer to themselves as “Ovandu va Kauritara” (People of Kauritara), Kauritara being their leader during their exodus to Botswana, left the country through southern Namibia via South Africa into Botswana. Some remained behind in South Africa, probably part of the people who today find themselves in Makopane and other areas in South Africa. As a result of the southern route they took, they speak Nama/Damara besides Otjiherero and Setswana. However, they have not forgotten their roots. Likewise, the Ovaherero descendants in the village of Motlhasedi, who hail from the clans of Katjimune, Kukuri, Humu and Kauraisa, to name but a few, crave for the restoration of their culture. That is why more than anything else the get-together has become an important cultural gathering. Coordinator of the Namibian entourage, Seuakouje Kandjii, says it is important for Ovaherero in Namibia to attend the event and similar ones in Botswana or wherever descendants of Namibia, or Ovaherero may find themselves, to foster links with them and thereby exchange cultural practices with them. He says an eminent Ovaherero folklorist would hopefully accompany the entourage to share his finer knowledge of the Ovaherero culture with the people there. The celebrations include paying homage to the ancestors, a youth workshop and speeches by various invited guests comprising representatives from the Namibian High Commission and German and British embassies in Tshwane.

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