Novel on genocide launches


Kae MaÞunÿu-Tjiparuro

Windhoek-After pursuing his target for years, a target on whose head he has put a price, the German colonel finally puts a bullet through the head of the man they find in the hills of Windhoek in a place coincidentally called Golgotha.

Biblically Golgotha was the place where Jesus Christ was crucified. Indeed it is not a mere coincidence that Mbakondja, the son of Mbanga¿e is eventually executed at a place also called Golgotha because to his people, the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu people, Mbakondja represents what Jesus symbolised to the Christian community, redemption.

In the same way, Mbakondja is out to redeem his people from the colonial yoke and brutality of the Schutztruppe. Not only this, but for him it is also a personal mission to revenge his father, Mbanga¿e, whom he only remember vaguely.

He lost his father at a tender age to the Schutztruppe in one of the many battles of his people against German invasion. His grandmother Tjikuu ensures that Mbakondja one day takes revenge for the death of his father Mbanga¿e by relating the heroics of his father to him as part of his upbringing.

However, as the novel comes to a close with the sad death of Mbakondja, he makes sure he does not go alone but also takes one of the colonel’s men along with him before the colonel finally himself puts him down.

This is the story of “The Weeping Graves of Our Ancestors”, a novel about the Ovaherero and Nama genocide by Dr Rukee TjingaeÞe, which launches this Friday.

“The timing of its market entry is deliberately aimed to assist the on-going dialogue for restorative justice and for people to use as a reference tool to combine the historical, social, cultural and political narratives in respect to the colonial history of Imperial Germany in Namibia.

“The idea is to support those in the forefront of our battle for restorative justice, inside and outside Namibia, with a literary tool that can generate cross-sectional global and local support from social movements, students, feminist groups, churches, academics and trade unions.

“Literature is sometimes a better tool than politics to entice readership and generate interest in a complex and highly sensitive topic such as genocide,” says the community activist and literary expert as he makes his intent with the novel crystal clear.

Indeed, the title of the book which goes further in that it evokes the memory of the ancestors crying for restorative justice – a reference to the ongoing campaign for reparations from Germany related to the genocide against the Namibian people in 1904.

“Although we are dealing with a genuine humanitarian cause, it is becoming extremely politicised and traditionalised to the extreme extent that the campaign is not gaining the needed support from social movements, especially inside the country, for this noble cause.

“While, the court case in the USA has generated high profile international media coverage, it is time to exploit that coverage by using other campaigns tools such as this to take the message deeper to support groups and social movements,” TjingaeÞe says.

In anticipation of this novel, one cannot but reflect on the proverbial story of the hunter always telling his/her story with the hunted rarely saying anything – in Namibian political history’s parlance, the triumphant image of the victor.

In his book “Namibia and Germany, Negotiating the Past”, Reinhardt Kössler notes the hegemonic narrative in Namibian history, especially the resistance and liberation history because of societal inequality.

“Those groups who were subjected to the flipside of privilege under colonialism and Apartheid, still find themselves in subaltern positions today when it comes to means of public articulation and projecting knowledge, in particular views on the past,” writes Kössler.

In this context surely the novel by Dr TjingaeÞe is a long overdue and a welcome addition to bridge the huge gap in the memorialisation of history and the past.

The Official launch of the book takes place on Friday 14 July 2017 at ICD, 22 Hamutenya Wahengo Ndali Street in the De Jager Building near Woermannbrock, Olympia, where prominent academics, politicians, traditional leaders and members of civic organisations will speak.

Members of the public are invited to attend and buy the book. A copy of the novel will be available for N$200 on order from Naomi Ngavonduezu at: 081-659-2067.


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