Little Light at End of Tunnel

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

AS much as I was not optimistic then, that is around the same time last year when the Ovambanderu court case had its second sequel in the High Court in Windhoek, my pessimism has not been eclipsed or overtaken by any happening, change of heart or re-realisation.

This time the case is headed for the Supreme Court. Not much has changed in terms of the atmosphere between the two groups who, since the dispute over the ethnic group’s constitution or governance system, have become flipsides of the wholesome known as Ovambanderu.

Hence my lack of optimism.

Since the High Court case last year in March, tensions between the two groups have been swinging between a thaw on the one extreme and a boiling point on the other. Any flickers of hope of a breakthrough have ended on the NBC Otjiherero Language Service where they started and ended to the play of the public gallery. One hears of ongoing attempts at arbitrating conciliation but such attempts seem to be a closely guarded secret known only to their initiators and spinners. When they are going to bare fruit remains a million-dollar question with the Supreme Court case now a fait accompli. Perhaps the touted mediation has been intended as Supreme Court post-facto? Should this be the case one is inclined to wonder if any of the parties is likely to be amenable to any conciliation initiative which at best may be nothing more than a face-saving effort in view of the verdict of the Supreme Court, whatever its verdict may be?

Both parties to the equation have had ample time to resolve this matter internally without resorting to the court. I would not say that they failed. They simply did not seem to have had the necessary willpower, goodwill and faith that this matter deserves. I wrote at the time on the eve of the High Court case. In fact, the High Court before its verdict handed last April, I further opined in this column, gave the two sides, “enough” time to come to terms last May. That should have paved the way for the two groups to eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel. That light remains as dim as ever. If anyone else out there has sufficient reason to believe that this time around they have gathered the necessary courage and tenacity to provide leadership to their people who have been suffering because of this matter, I fully give her/him the benefit of the doubt.

But all signs since have been indicating to the contrary. Not even the passing away of the traditional leader of this group, the late Chief Munjuku II Nguvauva in January this year, seems to be providing a fertile ground for sowing the seed of unity and a return to common kinship. If anything, moods have been charged highly in diametrically opposed directions with only the occasional subdued common adherence to the green flag, which even has not been without its trappings revealing of the deep-rooted and entrenched mistrust of each other. I even observed at the late chief’s funeral a view of the disputed constitution as a heritage bequeathed by the late chief to his community. One does not know how dominant this view is, but if it is as sacrosanct as it seems, one sees little light at the end of the tunnel. There have also been some undercurrents within either party to the effect that whatever the Supreme Court verdict, the Rubicon has already been reached.

Especially in view of the fact that the only seeming binding factor in the person of the late chief, is no more.

The Ovambanderu leadership have greeted my views, honestly held, that they have failed their people and betray their trust, with awe. I am afraid I have since seen nothing to convince me otherwise.

I see a year after the High Court verdict the same hardened attitudes, which are an anathema to any rapprochement. I cannot see how the Ovambanderu community can be the winner whatever the verdict of the Supreme Court is.

One hopes the verdict of the Supreme Court, whatever it may be, is only the beginning of forthrightness and the end of righteousness on the part of either equation of the Ovambanderu leadership. Yes, beyond the High Court there was one more avenue left which either of the sides had to exploit as its democratic right. I don’t see what more is there beyond the Supreme Court. If we cannot have the necessary confidence in the Supreme Court, I don’t see us having confidence in anything but anarchy. If it comes down to that can we any longer see ourselves as a civilised people and can the rest of the Namibian people and beyond regard us as such? Only the Ovambanderu have the answer!

However, somehow both spokespeople of the two divides seem to think that, whatever its verdict, the Supreme Court is the last stop to reawakening and the rediscovery of unity within this beleaguered community.

I only pray, as indeed the whole community, that our ancestors prove them correct.

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