Take Time to Sober Up

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

“COURT Ruling Ends Ovambanderu Dispute,” the New Era headlined one of its front page leads on Tuesday following the Supreme Court’s verdict on Monday on the Ovambanderu “constitutional” dispute that has been running since 2005.

This headline generally underlines the hope of the Ovambanderu that the long-drawn issue must now see an end. I am sure the headline also carries the wishes of many others who have been watching with concern on the sidelines as brother against brother acrimony engage in verbal bartering over a piece of document whose content many may not have an idea about. Yes, as far as the “constitution” is concerned certainly the Supreme Court has given expression albeit this gives little practical lessons to the country’s traditional communities on the essence of democracy and their relation thereto. At best the verdict is an exercise in legalese of the law fraternity, the two respective legal teams, in particular, and on the fringes, the judges, rather than any groundbreaking experience to the community that referred the matter for a legal opinion.

The only solace in this, as the newspaper headline well hopes on behalf of the battered Ovambanderu community, is of course that the adoption of the “constitution” may now indeed have come near to a close for the community to move on. One hopes that the initial mood displayed hitherto by both leaderships to the “constitutional” fracas following the verdict of the Supreme Court is not a transient heat-of-the-moment reaction. The Concerned Group seemed to be readily accepting the verdict and willing to live with it. The other group generally referred to as the “Chief’s” group, equally displayed commendable community-manship, or -womanship in burying the hatchet and steering the community towards matters that need doing for the prosperity of the community given the time already lost.

The initial reactions of the two sides inform one of a light at the end of the tunnel. But for this light to become a real beacon of hope these leaders need to deeply reflect on this verdict rather than react to it. They must allow its reality to sink home and emotions to dissipate before they contemplate and give effect to the next move. Somehow I smell some over haste in wanting to move on. Yes, one may agree that the community may have lost some time while bickering. However, the true meaning of the Supreme Court verdict is as yet to sink into the minds and souls of those who have been at the centre of the internecine war. It is as yet to be realised in its essence. Thus time is absolutely necessary to soberly absorb this verdict and to decide what the next best is. The leaderships may be misguiding self, as indeed their people to think that a day after the verdict, which comes after three years or so of acrimony, hatred and belligerence, they can now sit together without any enmity and discreetly deliberate on the way forward.

There is no denying that the current dispute has taken the community near to the edge where each side never ever contemplated what a unitary life thereafter would be for the community. Practically, for the past three years we have been seeing a community divided in two for all practical purposes.

Now, all of a sudden we hear that they can sit together. Is each really prepared to break the cocoon that each has been building around itself over the past three years or so? Not that they cannot try to break it but the way to start breaking this up is through a serious introspection by each, especially on the leadership level. This is necessary if a genuine rapprochement as publicly touted by each leadership is to be realised. One cannot wish away or hide the deep, bottled emotions among all. Nor can engage in wishful thinking that the just-handed court verdict can un-bottled it without a real change of heart, magnanimity and meticulousness on the part of leaders, and of course goodwill, understanding and tolerance on the part of general Ovambanderu community.

Hence, the imperativeness of the respective leaderships and opposing sides for self-examination and to absorb the verdict and events of the past three years or so in isolation so that when they turn around towards each other, it is for real and not just another public gimmick. One can already notice shuffling towards moving on but as expected this is not devoid of signs of blundering oversights, which could be fatal – all a result of over haste. One such oversight is by Senior Councillor Erastus Kahuure calling a meeting. An outflow of the court verdict is that the disputed “constitution” is now a legal document of this community and likewise the various structures the “constitution” lays down, including the Supreme Council. With hindsight until the community goes into dissecting it. If Kahuure is desirous of a meeting then the Supreme Council is the appropriate channel. The best he could do is to suggest such a meeting through the necessary channels.

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