Reiterdenkmal Debate Divides the House

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By Kuvee Kangueehi

Windhoek

Sparks were flying in the National Assembly on Wednesday as the house debated the motion on whether to remove the Windhoek landmark Reiterdenkmal, or leave it in place and find another suitable spot for the Independence Memorial Museum.

The motion divided the house into two, creating unlikely allies and pitting lifetime comrades such as Kazenambo Kazenambo and Utoni Nujoma against each other.

For the first time in many years, some Swapo Party MPs such as Petrus Ilonga and Nujoma congratulated Congress of Democrats (CoD) president, Ben Ulenga, for his contributions on the motion.

Ulenga said although he is not in support of the Reiterdenkmal being destroyed and reconstructed, he proposed that the German monument should be moved as it is and replaced by a statue of Chief Hosea Katuko because he is one of the most prominent figures of the liberation struggle.

The CoD president said the hill on which the Reiterdenkmal and Parliament building is situated symbolises nationhood and it will only be fitting for a statue of a Namibian to be erected at the hill.

However, Kazenambo totally objected to moving the Reiterdenkmal, saying the statue is not only a monument but it symbolises a number of values especially for the people that fought the war against the Germans.

The deputy minister said the statue has always been a focal point in the liberation of Namibia and when people were in exile they wanted to conquer Namibia and take control of Windhoek.

“The horse is a reference point, a reference of colonial engagement and we wanted to take the horse and control it.”

He noted the horse is also situated in front of the Alte Feste, which was a concentration camp, and a place where many Namibians lived an inhuman life, and died.

Kazenambo said history affected Namibians differently and thus to unify all the people, consultation must take place especially with people that were affected by the history in order to build a solid foundation.

“We should stop belittling others and consult more in order to have a coherent nation.”

On a point of information the Defence Minister, Charles Namoloh, said in war history is written by those who win and not the losers.

Citing an example of Iraq, Namoloh said when the government of late Saddam Hussein was defeated, the statue of the former Iraq president was demolished and all over the world the monuments which remain and are erected are of the winners.

Namoloh was also not happy that the Reiterdenkmal monument is much higher than the monuments of Namibian heroes such as Hendrik Witbooi and Hosea Kutako, and said the height gives more prominence to the colonisers.
“The statues of the colonisers must be in museums because statues represent power and the Germans were defeated.”

Ilonga in his contribution said history is for everyone and it should not be claimed by some people.

He noted that the German history is sad for everyone and in other countries it would have been destroyed at independence.

“The same German we want to defend destroyed all the Karl Marx symbols in Germany when they took control.”

Ilonga proposed that consultation takes place with various Namibian people.
The DTA president, Katuutire Kaura, tabled the motion.

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