Rundu-President Hage Geingob has said that Namibia relies on traditional authorities as custodians of its culture. He said when disputes arise on succession issues, they should use traditional ways to resolve these problems.
President Geingob made the remarks yesterday when he officially opened the 20th annual meeting of the Council of Traditional leaders currently underway in Rundu, where he said there were accepted customary rules of succession, as going to court may be contrary to the traditional ways of doing things and could distort the traditionally acceptable paths of royal succession.
“These days – whether in political parties or not – we have to go to the courts. That’s not how it’s supposed to be, we have customs. That’s why we trust you, the custodians of our culture, to tell us how to solve traditional matters in traditional ways, not modern courts.
“Now, if you go to court they have their rules, which may be contrary to our traditional way of doing things – that distorts the whole thing.
He said he had been informed that the rules of succession and other difficult issues would be on the agenda.
“I will be very happy to hear later on that you have resolved many of the outstanding issues,” Geingob said.
The president also told the assembled traditional leaders that no issue was unsolvable, saying as long as people talk and hold hands it can be solved.
“I’m a diplomat and I’m told countries go to war when diplomacy fails. That means if people stop talking they fight, but keep on talking, consult and try to solve outstanding differences in an amicable way in the Namibian house.
“Having studied the agenda for this year’s meeting, I am pleased to note that issues concerning disputes among traditional authorities are tabled for discussion, with the hope that long-lasting solutions can be found.
“We have been dismayed to witness the increase in friction within and amongst respective traditional communities, related to leadership succession and border disputes, to name a few.
“And unfortunately, on numerous occasions government is dragged into the midst of these avoidable disputes, which not only cause divisions among communities, but is also time-consuming, taking time and resources, which would best be served on matters of priority, such as the war against poverty.”
The president concluded that in Africa, reverence for one’s elders is part of the culture, as it forms part of the core of the African identity.
“There is a proverb that says: ‘What the elders see while sitting the young ones standing on their toes won’t see.’ It means one will never be able to substitute the knowledge and wisdom of our elders with the vigour and enthusiasm of youth,
“I therefore make an impassioned plea to all Namibians – to all children of our Namibian House – to unite in upholding the dignity of our culture, which will ensure that we accord our elders the respect and honour they deserve.”