Chief Kapuuo: Namibian Hero?


By Dr Rihupisa Kandando The weak propensities of Namibian political scientists (or rather lack of them), the circulation of “kindergarten” politics in Namibia, the political cowardice, the absence of a truth component in SWA-PO’s exiled imported policy of national reconciliation of 23rd May 1989, unlike our South African counterparts who have truth attached to reconciliation in the form of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), are the factors and licence being used to contribute to the elevation of the late Chief Clemence Kapuuo to the Namibian heroship by a section of the Namibian people. As a matter of principle, by virtue of being a SWANU member and also as a supporter of Chapter 3 of the Namibian Constitution that deals with Fundamental Freedoms and Human Rights, I have no problem for Na-mibians of all shades to exercise their freedom of expression. However, this freedom of expression must be exercised with care, responsibility, accountability, honesty and political sensitivity. While I will continue to ex-tend my sympathy and message of tribute to the family and close relatives of the late Chief Kapuuo vis-ÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚ -vis his sudden departure and cold-blooded assassination, it is also my submission politically that the late Chief contributed nothing significant that warrants him to be recognised as a Namibian hero and more especially between 1960 and 1978. Indeed, it is acknowledged that SWANU was founded at an inaugural meeting in the International Hall, Old Location, presided over by late Chief Kapuuo. It is also acknowledged that Chief Ka-puuo and other Herero Chief Council members who were opposed to the election of the late Uatja Kaukuetu decided to put the name of late advocate Fanuel Kozonguizi to the leadership of SWANU and requested Dr Sam Nujoma to pledge the vote of the Ovam-boland Peoples Organisation (OPO). Late advocate Kozonguizi was thus elected SWANU president in his absence by the sponsorship of Chief Kapuuo and Dr Nujoma, and late Uatja Kaukuetu who scored the second highest vote became the vice-president and automatically the acting president during Kozonguizi’s absence. What are the brief, short summaries regarding the truth and empirical evidence of Kapuuo’s political history between 1960 and 1978? After the shooting of our people on 10th December 1959 in the Old Location by the police, Chief Kapuuo declined to give evidence before the Hall Commission of Inquiry in January 1960 and it was left to late Kaukuetu and Dr Nujoma to represent SWANU. But during the course of the proceedings Kapuuo went to the witness-box to publicly dissociate himself from SWANU and by implication to openly denounce SWANU, thus backing the police allegations against SWANU. The brave demonstration and patriotism against this cowardice was shown by the then social worker (Dr Zed Ngavirue) who was later dismissed from his municipal job because of exposing the municipal officials and the collusion with the police in the massacre. It is acknowledged that in spite of Chief Kapuuo’s attempt to play ‘good boy’ he lost his teaching post later. Thus, after this betrayal of SWANU, Chief Kapuuo, knowing that he could not be acceptable to the SWANU rank and file let alone the leadership, decided to organise the Chiefs Council out of SWANU or rather those members from the Chiefs Council who were then on the SWANU National Executive Committee. He succeeded in wooing them out by the second half of 1960. He also lobbied Dr Nujoma’s OPO to withdraw from SWANU, but at that point Dr Nujoma had to leave the country and at that point the final act of withdrawal was left to the equally politically ill-informed late Louis Nelegani to complete. As far as I am concerned, the Chief Kapuuo and Mburumba Kerina will go down in the annals of Namibian history as having compromised the unity of the Namibian people at the alter of political expediency. The formation of Kerina’s NUDO in September 1964 is a case in point after the fiasco of mid-62 when Kerina “launched” the Namib Independence Peoples Party, National Convention Independence Party with Kerina as a leader and Kapuuo as president and a claim that Chief Kutako and Chief Witbooi be honorary presidents. The formation of the DTA, the reactionary and concessionary politics of the 1970’s in which Kapuuo was involved, is a sad chapter of the Namibian history. It is an open secret that these forces were used by the South African regime to disturb the process of national independence and freedom. During the era of Chief Kapuuo’s leadership, progressive Namibians were subjected to consistent beatings and destruction of properties between 1975 and 1978 and some of us as children witnessed these traumatic events. As an amateur in the political history of the 1960s to mid-70s, what I can derive from the history of Chief Kapuuo is that he was a personality with great potential and inclinations, but unfortunately he used his energy and dynamism in the service of the colonial regime of South Africa. As a supporter and servant of the Vorster regime in Namibia he engaged the progressive forces and this is what the dialectics is all about. My conclusion is that those who are advocating his legacy and others who are joining this commemoration for short-term political expediency and gains must be sensitive to others who have also suffered under his leadership. Given the distortion of our history and the reconciliation we are preaching, a need exists to revisit the truth and on that basis to forgive each other. There is no middle road.