A Berseba Fighter to the End

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With the passing on of Cornelius Jacobs, Senior Councillor of the /Hai-/Khaua Traditional Authority of Berseba, on Wednesday morning, 25 June 2008 in Keetmanshoop Hospital, the formidable struggle for liberation by founding fathers of the Berseba community has finally come to an end.

The prolonged struggle for liberation referred to was initially started in the early 70s by the founding fathers, under the dynamic leadership of late Chief Dawid Christian Goliath, and the able advisory councillorship of Cornelius Jacobs, late Anton Kahuika, Ou Matheus Esterhuyzen (Ou Eistor), late Timotheus Karolus (Ou Sutub), late Fried Motinga, Ou Raad Samuel Goliath – still alive but frail – and others.

These traditional great men and women of the /Hai-/Khaua community took a conscious decision to join the liberation struggle which was waged by the Swapo Party. Already in late 1972 he started secret dialogues with the likes of late David Meroro, late Axel Johannes, late Daniel Tjongarero, late Moganedi Thlabanello, and others.

Due to their love for this country Namibia and in pursuit of what their great-grandfathers started when colonizers set foot on Namibian soil, they wanted to remove all forms of colonization and oppression, and therefore felt that the Swapo Party that was known as the sole representative of the Namibian struggling people should be the political organization they should join to fight this noble cause of achieving total independence for Namibia.

Our father Cornelius Jacobs came to be appointed as Councillor in the early 60s and was solemnized by both the two Chiefs of the /Hai-/Khaua Traditional Authority by late Chief Dawid Christian Goliath and late Chief Diederick Isaack. His was therefore a special case since most of the traditional chiefs and councillors are appointed from either the Isaak or the Goliath clan.

Ou Raad, as he was affectionately known because of his age of 87, and the only then surviving and active Councillor from the old dispensation, played a strategic and significant advisory role in all aspects of traditional, political, social and spiritual fronts as it affects the community of Berseba and its surrounding areas.

He was the living historian and narrated events which happened many years ago with exact details and with actual dates of when that event or incident happened. He was equally gifted in negotiation skills and the current leadership of the Berseba Traditional Authority depended on him to lead and guide them when negotiating with national leadership on the issue of recognition as the Traditional Authority of the /Hai-/Khaua Traditional leaders of Berseba.

Already in the late 60s, late Chief Dawid Christian Goliath and Councillor Cornelius Jacobs and other Councillors were stripped of their monthly allowances and guns that were issued by the South African Government to all traditional authorities of that time. That was because of their vehement refusal to accept separate development, and because of their wish to allow Berseba to be developed as a town.

He narrated in greater detail the day when an apartheid South African State Security official of that time, Dick van Zyl, held a meeting with the Nama Traditional Authorities in the early 70s at Tses, some 80 km north of Keetmanshoop.

Late Chief Dawid Christian Goliath and his Councillors were also invited to this meeting. According to them, they were unaware that this meeting would seal the political fate of the /Hai-/Khaua community forever.

As was narrated by our late father, Cornelius Jacobs, Dick van Zyl stood up and posed a pertinent question to Chief Dawid Christian Goliath. The question was, which political party are they supporting and are active members of.

When this question was posed, Chief Dawid Christian Goliath turned back and looked at him in anticipation of an advice. He said that he was struck by the impact and implications the answer would have on them as traditional leaders and their people.

He said the mighty apartheid South Africa would wage a full-out war on them if they told them that they had joined Swapo Party, a political party that is fighting for the liberation of this country.

If they tell the opposite, they will and may betray themselves and their people, but probably that option may at least help them to free themselves from the wrath of South African oppression and suppression.

But according to late Cornelius Jacobs, he realised that this is the opportunity to tell the apartheid South Africa the truth. He therefore told Chief DC Goliath that he should tell Dick van Zyl that Swapo is their party and they are members of Swapo.

There was quick silent consultation amongst them when this question was posed and tussling during negotiations as some were saying it will be suicidal to tell them they are members of Swapo Party.

But at the end our fathers agreed and convinced themselves that this is the opportunity they were awaiting, never mind what will happen to them and their people, for telling the truth.

Chief DC Goliath stood up and bravely told the audience and Dick van Zyl that he and his Councillors together with some members of their community joined the liberation movement, Swapo, and therefore are together with those that are fighting to bring independence to this country, Namibia.

When Chief Goliath finished talking there was total silence, one could hear a pen drop, our father used to tell us. After a few minutes of lingering silence, Dick van Zyl stood up and said, “Let Us Pray”.

Van Zyl prayed and sought God’s guidance and light for the souls that are astray and for the dark world of godlessness where communism and materialism prevailed. Our father used to say if one were not a strong believer in God, one would have believed that Van Zyl was right.

They left the meeting that day with full knowledge that the South African Government is now aware of their political stand, and it was evident thereafter in measures taken to sideline and suppress them and sideline them in all aspects, but they persevered and witnessed the independence of Namibia that emerged a few years thereafter.

He used to narrate this and other anecdotes of their involvement in the activities of the Swapo Party in the early 70s in the south and about how they recruited other traditional leaders thereafter and how the south came to join the liberation movement and saw full participation of our people in independence and thereafter.

However, what he could not achieve thus far was to convince the Namibian leadership of the current government to recognise Berseba Traditional Authority.

Berseba Traditional Authority, led by the former Governor Chief Stephanus Goliath and later by Chief Johannes Fleermuys, met with Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma and in later years with President Pohamba on the same issue.

During all these meetings, Senior Councillor late Cornelius Jacobs accompanied these traditional leaders and skillfully negotiated and won the praise and admiration of our national leaders for his giftedness, this old man who had exceptional memory, the diplomatic skills and sharpness in presenting eloquently and with circumvention and with deep respect issues which are at times controversial.

At the age of 87, he was still strong physically and mentally and the traditional leadership and our community tapped from his wisdom. However, he was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in 2001 which gradually and chronically ate away at his flesh and he succumbed to it and was hospitalised in May and finally in June 2008.

He left this world on the morning of Wednesday, 25th June 2008 in Keetmanshoop Hospital. He will be remembered as having lived an exemplary life throughout. He was totally committed to his community and his country.

He had a deep sense of wanting justice to prevail and had a deep sense of gratitude for this government for having brought independence and dignity to our people.

His legacy will prevail through the community and through his children.

They left a place called Berseba in the hands of capable people like Chief Johannes Fleermuys and Chief Johannes Isaack.

It is now for the two leaders, together with their Councillors and followers to fulfill the aspirations of these founding fathers, that of uniting our people and Berseba to become a place where all /Hai-/Khaua people will feel united and proudly be members of that community and through that community to contribute to the nation-building of our government and of our Namibian people.

May his Soul Rest in Eternal Peace.

Salmaan D. Jacobs
Keetmanshoop

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