By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
Unity is strength and there can be no strength in disunity. Because of unity among the liberation forces, Namibia is today independent and enjoying the fruits of freedom as it does currently.
This was the message of Chief Rikurura Kukuri of the Ombandi Royal House.
Chief Kukuri, former Deputy Minister of Finance and from 2004 till 2007 the African Development Bank (ADB) administrator for five Southern African countries, was speaking at the 103rd commemoration of the death of Ombandi Chief and Evangelical Lutheran Church clergy, Zachariah Kukuri, his great-great grandfather.
Reverend Kukuri, who ruled over the Ovaherero people in the Otjosazu area east of Okahandja, was one of the leading figures in the Ovaherero war of resistance against Germany’s Imperial Forces.
The Ombandi clan under the command of Chief Kukuri fought side by side with the Ovaherero warriors under the erstwhile Ovaherero Chief, Samuel Maharero.
When Maharero retreated into the Kalahari Desert and eventually into Botswana, Kukuri who had followed him to ensure his safe passage into Botswana, however, returned halfway realising that he could not leave his people leaderless in Namibia. This is when he was arrested, dumped into a concentration camp and later hanged from a tree.
The very place where he was hanged here in Windhoek in Pionierspark opposite the Pionierspark Cemetery is his memorial, courtesy of the Ombandi clan in testimony to his heroics. This is where the Ombandi clan, and indeed the broader Ovaherero and Ovambanderu communities, as has become the tradition since 2005, gathered on Saturday to pay homage to the late Chief Kukuri.
In a message largely devoted to acknowledging the solidarity of all those who turned up for the event, Chief Kukuri, emphasising the message of others before him, notably the Mayor of Windhoek Matthew Shikongo, appealed to the Namibian nation to be proud of their history and not to forget it, as any nation was nothing without its history.
Kukuri pledged that the Ombandi clan under his leadership would strive at moulding a spirit of cooperation that would make it easier for the younger generation to prosper. In this history was important to them to build a tomorrow upon.
He pointed out that with unity they could shoulder any yoke. He went on to point out that he had his sights set on building the Ombandi community into a shining example of traditional leadership and took the Windhoek mayor on his word to make this historic place a respected place like any other cemeteries in the city.
The mayor was surprised to see the state of dilapidation in which the cemetery was and challenged the residents of Windhoek, including the Ombandi clan, to take the city on to improve it.
Speaking on behalf of the Ovaherero Genocide Committee, spokesperson Edwin Kanguatjivi said the 103rd commemoration of Chief Zacharias Kukuri comes four years after the commemoration of the Genocide of the Namibia people by Imperial Germany’s forces in 2004, at which German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, supposedly apologised to the Namibian people.
Nevertheless the German government has since not “moved an inch” to put deed to its apparent apology. Equally, only recently the German Parliament, the Bundestag rejected a motion tabled by the Left Party seeking reparations from the German government to the Namibian people who suffered Imperial Germany’s atrocities.
Instead, the Green Party has tabled a reconciliation motion whereby the parliaments of Namibia and Germany would engage each other in dialogue on the issue of reconciliation.
Kanguatjivi said excusing the good intentions of the Green Party as an international progressive force, and focusing on reconciliation ran the risk of diluting and diverting the demand of the Namibian people for reparations.
“We have no issue of reconciliation with any German descendant, let alone the German Federal government nor its emissaries here in Windhoek,” Kanguatjivi emphasised. He added that if any reconciliation was indeed needed, the people whose ancestors suffered atrocities at the hand of Imperial Germany’s forces needed to reconcile within for not having as yet redeemed the blood and lives of their ancestors.
“Secondly, they must reconcile with the spirits of these ancestors. This is why we have embarked upon the reparations campaign,” said Kanguatjivi.
Kanguatjivi seemed to be echoing the sentiments of Reverend Sondag Kangueehi, who opened the ceremony after the traditional pilgrim to the graveyard with a prayer. He was disappointed by the neutrality of Namibians of German descent on the issue. He said they could do better for the reconciliation they so much preach by being ambassadors for this cause.
Archbishop Assaria Kamburona of the Protestant Unity Church also co-presided over the event with Reverend Kangueehi. Incidentally, the two had chosen the same script of Jeremiah 7: Verses 5-6, pointing out that the German forces skipped these verses when they were killing Namibians, while the missionaries were on the contrary preaching the very same script to the Namibian people.
A brass band, attired in the red, white and green symbolising the three traditional flags, and under the guidance of bass trumpeter Meundju Ngaruka, ensured for respite in between the various speakers.