Kavangos bemoan exclusion from genocide narrative

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John Muyamba

Rundu-Communities of the Kavango regions have informed the National Assembly’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs Standing Committee they have no objection to the proposed May 28 date as a genocide commemoration day, but want the unsung Malyo-Lishora massacre of 1894 and the Kavango uprising of 1903 against the Germans to be included in the planned commemorations.

They argue that the genocide commemoration should not only include OvaHerero and Nama people.

Romanus Shiremo, a history teacher, argued during the consultations that many Kavangos were killed by Batswanas, led by Chief Sekgoma, who was sponsored with guns and ammunition by German agents, such as Georg Reinhardt and others in Ngamiland in Botswana to come and kill the VaShambyu and VaGciriku people, who were accused of having killed a German trader by the name of Phillip Wiessel and a Scottish trader by the name Robert Arthur Faraday in 1892.

But that history has never been written and does not form part of the genocide narrative.
“The fact that Georg Reinhardt sent a report about the Malyo-Lishora massacre to the German imperial government in Windhoek showed that the German government played a role in the massacre,” Shiremo further argued.

“The definition of genocide has been misunderstood by many Namibians and it is high time people know that the term genocide should not be determined by the large numbers of people killed, but by the act and intention of the perpetrator, he stated during the consultations.

“It is very critical that we understand the term genocide. To all of us up til now, we understand that genocide means when folks are killed in great number, that is our understanding so far. I presume that even the mover [of the motion], when he proposed this day, that is what he had in mind.

“I am saying so, because even when they talk about reparation it is confined only to two groups. Why? It is simply because of the understanding, we understand that those two groups were killed in a bigger number and thus it is a genocide,” said another Kavango resident Ausiku Ausiku.

“Now the research is revealing to us that although it was not recorded anywhere before, that the war of national resistance began from here. Now what we are trying to suggest is that when the committee goes back they should also amplify on these points that understanding has now begun to change.

“It is really a pity that 27 years after independence that is when we are beginning to hear about the role some Kavango traditional leaders played and as a result when it comes to events that led to the liberation of this country Kavangos are left out, as if they did not play a role,” Ausiku added.

“We demand that when the writing of history school textbooks is done an attempt at national consultation – like the committee is doing – must be done. Twenty-seven years of independence is too long for some Namibians to still feel excluded from the national history,” Shiremo said.

He and others demanded that the following hompas (traditional leaders) be officially recognised as heroes of the early anti-colonial resistance for Namibia, as they participated in the anti-colonial resistance before the Germans went to exterminate the Herero and Nama people.

“Hompa Nyangana WaMukuve, Fumu Diyeve DyaKushamuna, Hompa Mbambangandu WaShimbenda, Hompa Nampadi ZaMbanze, Hompa Himarwa Ithete and Hompa Kandjimi Hauwanga; that is for the bravery and unity they showed in 1903 in standing together to fight against the Germans before the Herero/Nama genocide.

“That should be part of the history of the war of national resistance in Namibia. In fact, the war of national resistance started in Kavango in 1903,” Shiremo maintained.

“We also demand that some of these mentioned unrecognised heroes – if not all – their symbolic graves to be put in the Heroes Acre.

“The National Heritage Council must seriously consider some places in the two Kavango regions as national monuments.

“There are no monuments here, as if nothing ever happened here,” Shiremo further noted.
Apart from the above demands, Kavangos during the consultation also demanded to be included in memorials of the history of resistance and for their history and contributions to be displayed in the new Independence Memorial Museum in Windhoek, where Kavango history is not currently represented.

They asked that the government should seriously consider their demands for inclusion.

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