By Charles Tjatindi
The Ovaherero people and other members of the community flocked to Okahandja over the weekend to pay homage to their fallen ancestors.
With the annual commemoration in its 84th year, traditional leaders appealed for unity amongst the Ovaherero, saying progress and development can only be achieved when people work together as a team.
Supreme Traditional Chief of the Ovaherero, Alfons Maharero, said that leaders often use the issue of unity to score political mileage, but often hardly hold the issue at heart.
“Unity should be approached in a mature and careful manner for it to be successful. Unity should not be used as rhetoric to score political mileage, but should be aimed at uniting people genuinely,” he said.
The Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero, Kuaima Riruako, echoed these sentiments, noting that disunity has had serious consequences in the past, and should therefore be discouraged amongst the Ovaherero.
“It was disunity amongst us that caused the death of the late Kahimemua and Kambahahiza. We should draw solid lessons in this regard…” he said.
Riruako also used the opportunity to call for the commencement of serious dialogue between the Ovaherero and the Germans, which could lead to the overdue compensation of the Ovaherero by the Germans.
“The cardinal call of all Ovaherero people today to the German government is to enter into constructive dialogue while we can. Do not provoke the anger of the Ovaherero by playing delaying and divide-and-rule tactics, hoping to evade your obligation to compensate the Ovaherero people,” he remarked.
The Ovaherero waged a bitter and brave war against German colonial forces more than a hundred years ago, which culminated in the infamous battle of Ohamakari at present-day Waterberg.
That battle saw more than 60 000 Ovaherero losing their lives, and a similar large number of them fleeing across the Kalahari Desert into Botswana.
Others were driven into the arid and dry deserts of Omaheke, where many succumbed to their injuries, thirst and hunger.
Amongst those fleeing to Botswana was Samuel Maharero, who succeeded to lead some of his people there, until his death in 1923.
On August 23, 1923, his body was brought back and ceremonially buried at Okahandja, which set the stage for the annual commemorations.