By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
The struggle for reparations must go hand in hand with prayers because if the Ovaherero take pride in their own abilities without prayers, they would not achieve what they want.
This message came from Reverend Alexander Hianja of the Protestant Unity Church, also known as Oruuano.
The Otjombinde constituency-based clergy led an ecumenical service here on Saturday as part of the 103rd commemoration of the Extermination Order announced by General Lothar von Trotha, the then commander of German Imperial forces in Namibia.
The service took place under a tree here known as ‘Ngauzepo’ and attracted people from all walks of life including Green, Red and White flag adherents in their traditional paramilitary regalia.
The tree is believed to have served as gallows of some kind during the 1904-7 wars between the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu on one side, and the German army on the other where war captives were executed by hanging.
‘Ngauzepo’ literally means “it must be removed”, reflecting the sentiments of some community members here who feel that the tree evokes sad memories of the brutalities of German colonial rule in the then German South West Africa, as Namibia was then known, as well the injustices meted against them.
However, the patron of the Ovaherero Genocide Committee, Festus Muundjua, felt the tree is historic and must be preserved and even declared a national heritage.
Leading the service with a scripture reading, the clergyman likened the demands of the Ovaherero for reparations to the lamentations of the Israelites on their exit from Egypt to the Promised Land.
He appealed to the community to make amends with God in their hearts and to let go of the past. He cautioned that in continuing the struggle of the ancestors who perished in the wilderness, they should at all time show grief and mourn together with their fellows because of the destruction of their people at the hands of colonial Germany.
He said if this community prides itself in its own abilities and not in God, it would not achieve what it has set out to achieve in getting the blood of its ancestors redeemed. He also appealed for the community to show the necessary grief especially when meeting under ‘Ngauzepo’, because many people died from it.
He added that in fact, the entire area leading to Ozombu Zovindimba, where von Trotha issued the order, and beyond, is a slaughterhouse because people died there.
He said in commemorating the sad event of the past 103 years, there is no love among the community and there is an endless war within it. A war of words and there is no greater war than the war of words. Any war starts with the war of words, the clergyman emphasized.
He appealed to the community to make amends and turn over a new leaf and adopt new lifestyles if the freedom and democracy that have been achieved is to have any meaning. He said hurtful words have been said by people of standing within the community and added that hurt breeds unhappiness. He thus appealed to the community to emulate the deeds of its ancestors by struggling for peace.
He said chiefs Hosea Kutako and Clemence Kapuuo talked peace and this is the peace the community must nurture instead of negating and turning against one another. “When two dogs are fighting over a bone, the third comes and gets away with it,” he cautioned.
There is no more time for the traditional leaders to turn against one another, belittle one another and engage in insignificant matters. All must endeavour towards moving closer to God and pray to Him to change their hearts and instill in it love because without love, there can be no progress.
He prayed for love and togetherness in the way forward. This is for the sake of future generations. Unless current leaders set a good example for future generations, they would leave them a bad legacy.
Clergymen from various churches including independent African churches rotated in prayers and also used the occasion to pray for rain. The event was attended amongst others by the Councillor for the Aminuis Constituency, Ervin Uanguta.