In-fighting Mars Kapuuo’s Commemoration

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The commemoration of the death of the late Herero paramount chief Clemens Kapuuo turned sour on Monday night as two splinter groups confronted each other for the use of a Katutura venue. The meeting, that took place at the Commando Hall in Katutura, was delayed for about an hour after people split into two groups, referring to themselves as the “political group” and the “traditional group”. Before the event already some segments of the Herero had organised separate commemoration ceremonies for the late Kapuuo. On Monday night, a group led by DTA leader Katuutire Kaura gathered at the Commando Hall. As the gathering was waiting for the arrival of their leader who only turned up almost an hour after the scheduled time of the start of the event, another group dressed in khaki uniforms and belonging to the Red Flag assembled themselves just outside the fence of the hall. Apparently, this group was pro-Chief Kuaima Riruako who threatened to bring anarchy and chaos should the Kaura group proceed with the event. Despite pleas being made earlier on by Riruako that all tribal people celebrate the day under one umbrella, division reigned supreme on Monday. The “traditional group” (Riruako’s) of about 20 men alleged that they were the sole and rightful people to make use of the venue and they did not want to join those inside as they viewed this group as “political”. As tempers boiled between the two groups and gloomy faces could be seen all over, the “political group” summoned the City Police to avert a free-for-all brawl. Though the event that was scheduled to start at 18h00, would begin an hour later, people were aimlessly milling outside the hall wondering what would happen next. Parliamentarian McHenry Venaani who was part of the “political group” inside the hall, said that Riruako had suggested that the commemorations be done at Oruuano Church, but “we objected and indicated that we were ready for this day and everyone could come and celebrate in the Commando Hall as it has been done through the years.” “We said Riruako was also welcome to speak at this gathering but now he instigated some people. Some Red Flag guys want to close the hall,” Venaani added. For more than 45 minutes, City Police Sergeant Kaleb Mateus tried to calm the situation but tempers flared within the “traditional group” outside the fence. As he tried to negotiate, others insisted the sergeant closed the hall but Mateus was quick to remind them that he was not there for what could be political or traditional reasons but rather to bring order. Mateus who also seemed confused could not understand the squabbling. “I do not understand why the same people are doing this. Why should we stand here and break people,” the baffled officer stated. After the arrival of Kaura at about 19h00, people heaved a sigh of relief. Ululating, whistling and warrior songs filled the air as Kaura entered the hall. Mateus and other three City Police officers were then still negotiating with the “opposition” group, which in a few minutes after Kaura’s arrival disappeared and it can only be assumed they went to the Katutura Community Hall where their Chief Riruako and his supporters were assembled. The first few minutes before the proceedings could start people in the Commando Hall could not keep their eyes away from the main entrance just in case the other group stormed in. As statements of solidarity were delivered, the gathering became lost in the memories of the late Kapuuo. Among other highly profiled people who attended the commemoration were Nora Schimming-Chase, Johan de Waal, Alois Gende, Ben Ulenga, Mburumba Kerina and Philemon Moongo. In his statement, Gende noted, “It is very bad to see some groups in this country who want to take advantage of this day for their gain. They want to still bring instability.” He urged peace-loving Namibians to commemorate the day with great joy as the great chief Kapuuo was worth remembering. Kapuuo was gunned down in the backyard of his shop in Katutura in the year 1978 and to date, his assassins are still at large. The late chief was the first NUDO President and a member of the Turnhalle Conference. He was also a founding member of the South West African National Union (SWANU).