We need to speak with one voice on the land question

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The Second National Land Conference is fast approaching, the conference is scheduled for next month, and one cannot but wonder whether our communities, especially those who have been dispossessed of land and to whom the land question is thus a pivotal and vexed question, are ready for this conference.

The importance of this conference cannot be overemphasised, especially when we are not sure if there would ever be another of its kind in view of the fact that it took a good 26 years after the First National Land Conference of 1991.

Of great concern is the question: what are these communities taking to this conference. And whatever they intend to take to this conference, how common is that to all of them? How can everyone who hails from these communities claim ownership of whatever proposals and positions these communities intend to take and serve on this conference?

We are all well aware of the mushrooming of traditional authorities in our various and respective communal areas.
Does it mean each and very traditional authority is going to take its own position to this conference?
As land dispossessed and land hungry, as many of these communities are, it is also hard to understand how and where they differ – or may yet differ – let alone in their approach to land reform and redistribution, given their similar vantage point of as dispossessed people?

Likewise, one cannot see the rationale and prudence of each taking to this conference its own position paper, that is assuming that each and every traditional community does in fact have its own position paper and/or approach to the land question, which fundamentally differs from any other.
This suggests that ideally and essentially these communities should have crystallised their various positions into one formidable position.

But one has seen little in this regard, except for one traditional community in the Omatjete/Otjohorongo communal area that last Saturday had an indaba in preparation for the land conference. The extent to which it was inclusive of the broader communal populace is uncertain though.

The other communities and their traditional authorities seem to have been rather quiet in this regard. One would have thought that when it comes to the land question, the various communities would retreat to form a formidable position owned by all and sundry, as dispossessed and land hungry people.

One would have thought the Epukiro community, as a landless community would close ranks, at least for now, to formulate and present to the land conference one monolithic position based on the needs of the dispossessed.
But sadly the leaders of the land dispossessed, so far have not shown the requisite leadership in this crucial hour when their people surely need its leadership and guidance in this regard.

When one talks about leadership, as in this instance, one is referring to leadership in its broad definition. Farmers’ associations, traditional leaders, eminent individuals in these communities, youth associations, women leagues, you name them.

Certainly, they have a special duty and obligation to show leadership at this hour, lest history judge them as not having provided the necessary leadership and guidance in this crucial matter.

More than at any period, this is the time that the landless communities need their leaders to spearhead their demands for land. This opportunity may never again present itself, if indeed it does present itself next month.
Yes, time may be running out, but it is by no means too late for these leaders to take the lead in this regard and rally the people they often claim to lead.

The question at hand is no doubt bigger than any traditional authority or community and calls for such to bury the hatchet – albeit temporarily – in the best interest of their communities by adopting one coherent position on the matter.

Whether one is from Berseba, Warmbad, Hoachanas, or whatever the traditional seat of any traditional community and/or authority, land hunger and dispossession are similar among our all affected communities and call for a concerted effort and voice.

The seeming differences among our traditional leaders and authorities have proven no more than empty schisms that cannot and should not be allowed to overshadow the vexed question of landlessness and dispossession.

It is time that for once the leaders of the concerned communities realise their crucial mission at this juncture in history and shed their usual holier-than-thou attitude for the good of their communities.
If they cannot and will not do that, surely history will judge them accordingly.

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