Ovaherero Wrangling: Paramount Chief Rukoro, you have a bigger cause!



The continuing wrangling within the Ovaherero community last week led to an untenable near-explosive situation.

The said explosive situation also seemed to have awoken in the Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero an unbecoming side of him.

There is, as far as the demeanour and decorum of his language was concerned, an unbecoming side for a leader as highly esteemed and revered as he is.

Yes, if there are those who may regard the Ovaherero Paramount Chief with disdain and disrespect, and who may not recognise his authority as the Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero, let it be.

But this does not take away nor change him from being who he is to his people, and others who respect the choice of his people as their leader.

One is well aware of the many challenges that the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) has been facing since the times of the late Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Dr Kuaima Riruako, and which are still existent to this day.

The genesis of such challenges dates even back to before the era of non-recognition, until this day when the OTA has been recognised. But still the OTA seems to be facing many human-engineered and malicious challenges.

One obstacle and challenge to its authority is the non-gazetting of its leaders despite the OTA having been officially recognised by the Namibian government since 2008. Such non-gazetting has practically been rendering the OTA a non-recognised authority status.

This, and the other challenges against the OTA notwithstanding, can by no means justify his non-majestic utterances as quoted in the media referring to the Namibian government as an “Ovambo government”, among others.

One can understand the limit to which Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro and his people as well as fellow kinspeople, may feel the Namibian government has been driving and continues to drive them.

But the hallmark of a good leader is the ability to remain invincible, cool and calculated against all odds and in the face of all manner of provocation.

Whatever the odds, nothing can stand in the way of just and good cause because the seeming odds may only be maliciously intended to derail whatever good cause he and his people may stand for.

That is why no self-respecting community member of Paramount Chief Rukoro can condone what he was quoted as saying.

Given his current position as stalwart, and one of the leaders in the cause of genocide and reparations, one believes Rukoro is bigger than the OTA of which he should be the leader had he been recognised.

He should act bigger than the provocations thrown his way, too. All and sundry, whether Ovaherero or not, who support this cause are surely looking up to his leadership, and that of his counterparts in this regard.

The communities and people believe in his leadership and the justness of this cause. He should not therefore expose himself too much to detractors and agent provocateurs.

The latest near-explosive stand-off between and among the Ovaherero, and later almost between a section of the Ovaherero led by Paramount Chief Rukoro, is a culmination of many traditional frivolities, of which the annual traditional pilgrimage to Okahandja is but one manifestation.

For long now this pilgrimage has been a bone of contention among the Ovaherero, especially a section led by then Paramount Chief, Kuaima Riruako (and today Paramount Chief Rukoro) and the Maharero Royal House led by then Supreme Leader, the late Kaihepovazandu Maharero, and today by Supreme Leader Tjinaani Maharero.

But to close observers of the politics of traditional affairs of the Ovaherero community (ies), to reduce the feud within the community to a contention for the annual pilgrimage to Okahandja, and attendant sacred shrines, may be simplistic, hiding political chicaneries.

As sacred as the pilgrimage to Okahandja and the shrines there may be, the community too often has been making others, including its younger generations, believe one cannot but muse why the community, for the sake of its holy ancestors, has not been able to make the pilgrimage to Okahandja an overriding and overarching ritual above their seeming obvious differences, political or otherwise?

One cannot overemphasise or underemphasise the importance of this annual pilgrimage to Okahandja. This falls on August 26. This is when in 1923, the remains of erstwhile Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Samuel Maharero, were re-interred in Okahandja from Botswana where he had passed a few months earlier the same year.

It thus may not have been incidental that Heroes Day is August 26. It is 93 years now that the Ovaherero have been taking an annual pilgrimage to pay homage to Samuel Maharero and others, who have subsequently been buried in the various holy shrines in Okahandja.

In 2013, the long-running dispute had a sequel in the court when ultimately the two groups, Rukoro and Maharero, in an agreement made by an order of the court, seemed to have settled to jointly organise this pilgrimage. It is this very agreement the Attorney General referred to last week.


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