Trying to Heal the Mbanderu Rift

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek Namibia’s Prime Minister Nahas Angula has called on the Ovam-banderu Community to unite. Angula made the call yesterday at the annual Green Flag Commemoration at Okahandja. Addressing hundreds of Mbanderu’s, the Premier noted that the community should rally behind Paramount Chief Munjuku Nguvaua in his quest to unite his people. “We should all seek for unity in order not to betray the spirit of the Late Chief Kahimemua”. Angula, who was the guest of honour at the gathering, added that he had learned through media reports about the ‘misunderstanding’ and called on them to put the differences aside and to focus on other pressing national issues. “I am delighted to sit on the right-hand side of the Chief and impressed that despite his poor health condition the Chief has come to this gathering to rekindle and keep the spirit of Kahimemua alive.” Angula said that since political independence had been attained through the sacrifices of heroes like the late Kahimemua, Namibians should focus on re-owning the country’s resources. He said very few Namibians own the country resources, such as the minerals, marine resource and other economically important resources and thus Namibians should emanate the spirit of the heroes like Kahimemua to liberate themselves from poverty. At the same occasion, the Mayor of Okahandja, Christofina Paulus, noted that during the commemoration of the late King Kahimemua, people should remember and pay everlasting homage to those countrymen and women who sacrificed their precious lives in the fight for independence, freedom and justice. “This important gathering is indeed an on-going process of cultural decolonization of the Namibian people and I concur with the recipe by Vezera Kandetu in a paper for Namibia’s national survival titled: “Unity Beyond Cultural Barriers”. The Mayor also used the opportunity to highlight challenges that are facing the local authority. “Okahandja is no exception to the rule of high prevalence of Aids, unemployment and extreme poverty; especially amongst our people who are being dumped here by commercial farmers.” She called on the premier to reconsider subsiding local authorities in order for them to be able to provide clean water and sanitation to their residents. The commemoration was well attended and the decision by the Concerned Group of Ovambanderu’s to boycott the cultural event did not appear to have affected the gathering. Despite the absence of Senior Erastus Kahuure who did not deliver the opening remarks as was scheduled because he is leading the faction that has boycotted the event, the programme went ahead as planned. The Concerned Group stated on the eve of the commemoration that, as a matter of principal, they had decided not to participate in the 110th Commemoration of Chief Kahimemua’s death. The official spokesperson of the Concerned Group noted that the current atmosphere, which they described as “disrespectful, non-cooperative and distrustful”, had prompted their decision to stay away. Yesterday’s occasion was attended by many dignitaries, including Ovaherero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako, Member of Parliament Asser Mbai, Chief Tombe Tjombe, Epukiro Regional Councillor Brave Tjirera, Deputy Minister Kilius Nguvauva, Willie Hoveka and Otjozondjupa Governor Theo Esib. “The purpose of the commemoration of this imperative nature is normally to pay tribute to the late Kahimemua and other heroes and it is our opinion that commemorations of this nature must be conducted in an atmosphere which is friendly and conducive to all participants as those present are appealing to their forefathers for goodwill and prosperity in their personal capacities and as a people.” Paul Kahorere said the organisation of the event does not reflect the non-sectarianism, unity and cohesiveness that are supposed to be tenets and pre-requisites for holding such a commemoration. The Ovambanderu commemorations take place annually when they converge at Okahandja in June to pay homage to fallen Namibian heroes who paid a high price for the liberation of the country. The Okahandja commemorations under the Green Flag this month will pay particular tribute to the contributions made by Chief Kahi-meua of the Ovambanderu who was among the very first leaders of the era of primary resistance to colonialism. Chief Kahimemua was executed by German colonial forces in Okahandja in 1896 following a fierce battle between his people and German troops at Otjunda in the Omaheke Region. This battle set the tone for other subsequent genocides committed by the then German government. Chief Kahimemua’s grave has been declared a national monument by the Namibian Government.