By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
LEPHALALE, South Africa
The delight was subdued but visible on the faces of South Africans of Ovaherero/Ovambanderu descent.
Subdued because with over 500 guests to host, feed and accommodate, they could not merely delight in the historicity of the occasion and the record number of their kith and kin it attracted.
Yet, the delight was not unwarranted as subdued as it may have been until the last moment of the event, a benediction by Pastor Tuamanovandu Papo as hundreds of Ovaherero and Ovambanderu descendants here, Botswana and Namibia retraced the footprints of their ancestors.
The occasion was the centenary commemoration of the arrival of Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Samuel Maharero. Although they have been observing their Ovaherero/Ovambanderu historical-cultural heritage since 2002, the event last weekend was by any definition a departure from the one that has been taking place every December, both in attendance and tone. Understandably so.
Hundred years ago erstwhile Ovaherero Paramount Chief Samuel Maharero set foot and settled in South Africa, in the then province of Transvaal. Maharero led a group of his followers in exile fleeing the killing machine of the German Imperial Army under its notorious commander, General Lothar von Trotha.
Von Trotha is renowned for not only reading out the infamous Imperial Germany’s Extermination Order against the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu, but also for carrying out the order to the letter and spirit of his masters in Berlin, and brutally so. At the end of the war, the Ovaherero who according to census statistics stood at over 80???_?_’???_?’???_???