Herero Leaders Challenged

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On the 3rd November, 2006 a number of mysterious shots were fired at the Onderombapa settlement in the greater Aminuis constituency. A young man, Theboy Hiiho, tragically lost his life. It is mysterious in the sense that to this day there is no proper lead in solving this crime. There still remain a lot of questions surrounding the death of Hiiho especially as to who fired the fatal shot that took a young life. A dark cloud is still hanging over the community as to who robbed Theboy’s parents of their son. Despite all of the above, a hero was create in the sense that Hiiho was given a hero’s funeral and buried alongside decorated leaders of the Ovaherero community. It has always been the tradition that the Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero people is the one to decide who is to be buried at the Ovaherero Heroes’ Acre in Okahandja. In this specific situation, I believe the Chief moved a little bit from the traditional norms by deciding that a young man be buried there without having lived a decorated life in the Red flag or being a prominent leader in the community. The Okahandja Heroes’s Acre is full of decorated leaders and prominent community members who have lived their lives as community leaders and dedicated themselves to the service of the Ovaherero people and their interests. Mr Hiiho did not lead a decorated life nor was he a prominent leader of the Ovaherero people, but his death is probably what prompted the Chief to decide on declaring him a hero. Mr Hiiho, in my view, was the victim of the deep-rooted divisions among the Ovaherero people brought about by the deliberate and blatant disrespect amongst the leaders of the Ovaherero people. Hiiho died and is today buried because the leaders of the Ovaherero people allowed themselves to be used by the government in their divide-and-rule strategy. The leaders of the Ovaherero are failing to see the Aminuis violence for what it really is – the first sign of a division crisis that is really now getting out of control. There is an age-old Herero saying which says: “Ohande Injose ondjuuo Ovaherero veno katarera”, roughly translated as “A spark can burn down a house, the Ovaherero are dangerously observant.” This means, in the most basic terms, that the Ovaherero are traditionally observant of problems they are aware of until they get out of hand and dangerous. The Aminuis violence is a classic example of this age-old saying. Today the biggest challenge is not who was killed but why he was killed and how the leaders of this community will be able to deal with this situation in future. Will our leaders be able to rise to the occasion and prevent similar incidents from taking place? And how will they do it? The fact that this young man has been laid to rest at Hereros’ Acre is testimony of how serious the leadership of the community is in dealing with his death. However, his burial in Okahandja will mean nothing if the same nonsense of opportunism is to prevail and more violence takes place because of the division that is within the Ovaherero community. The blood of the young Hiiho is directly on the hands of all the leaders of the Ovaherero people, and the ancestors will never be happy with the loss of an innocent young life because of political opportunism and our leaders’ inability to maintain the most basic value of human co-existence, being respect. The leaders of the Ovaherero community should show maturity and deal with this issue once and for all. They are brothers, cousins and nephews of one another, and they should come together and deal with this issue of division maturely. They should remember that there are forces like the government of this country which is hard at work trying to maintain the division of their subjects, but they should rise beyond petty differences to ensure unity of purpose and love within their communities The real value of our youthful hero and his status is now being tested, and it will depend on the leaders’ ability to ensure that what took Hiiho to the grave is not repeated again. Let all the traditional leaders swallow their pride and work with one another for the sake of their subjects. Natjirikasorua Tjijera Okouue, Ovitoto