Ovaherero demand repatriation to Namibia

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WINDHOEK – There is a growing number of Ovaherero living in Botswana or Baherero as they are referred to in that country, who are requesting permision from the Botswana government to return to Namibia. 

This was confirmed by Tjiumbu Tjimunjo, who is the chairperson of the voluntary repatriation committee of the Ovaherero in Botswana. Tjimuinjo is based in Maun, Botswana. “Many people are approaching me with questions relating to whether there are job opportunities Namibia and whether there is enough land for farming in Namibia, these are some of the questions I face on a daily basis,” said  Tjimunjo in a telephonic interview yesterday.

The Botswana Congress Party Member of Parliament in the Okavango constituency (Ngamiland), Bagalatia Arone, told New Era he is aware of the repatriation process. Ngamiland is home to most of the Ovaherero in neighbouring Botswana. He said he understands the request to return to Namibia, since livestock rearing is starting to clash with government efforts to promote tourism in the area. “Our Ovaherero people have been frustrated by government’s decision to declare Ngamiland a red zone and as such the cattle industry has not been very attractive and as such has condemned our people to high poverty levels. The attractive cattle market in Namibia has attracted the Ovaherero to go back to Namibia,” he added.

Among those expressing a desire to return to Namibia are young professionals ranging from lawyers, doctors to nurses and farmers. Tjimuinjo says the governments of Botswana and Namibia are currently handling the repatriation requests. Over 600 households have so far showed interest in the repatriation exercise. The biggest fear however is whether they would find employment in Namibia even though they regard Namibia as their ancestral home.

“We still feel like foreigners here, in fact we are being made to feel as foreigners,” said one teacher who spoke to New Era recently. The Ovaherero people in Botswana are descendants of those who fled the 1904 war against the Germans and have been living there ever since. Many live in villages such as Tsau, Semboyo, Makakung, Kareng, Bothatogo, Toteng, Sehithwa, Bodibeng, Komana and Chanoga, the Ngamiland district at large and centres such as  Charleshill and Maun. Attempts to establish the exact number of Ovaherero living in Botswana have proven difficult, but a rough estimation pute the number at close to 100 000.

 

By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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