KEETMANSHOOP - Nama Traditional Leaders Association secretary general, Deodat Dirkse said Shark Island should not be regarded as a tourist attraction and rather be declared as a sacred site.
He reasoned as such when interviewed by New Era in light of human remains discovered at the island and also that a memorial cross has been destroyed at the scene.
“Government and other traditional authorities should respect and be empathetic towards each other when it comes to heritage issues and sacrifices made for our freedom,” he remarked.
Dirkse also questioned why places like Heroes’ Acre and the Cassinga site are not also regarded as tourist attractions where people can be entertained as all sites speak on people who lost their lives and made sacrifices to ensure Namibia’s Independence.
“At the Cassinga massacre about 600 people were killed by the apartheid South African defence force whilst close to 8 000 people were exterminated by German aggressors at Shark Island, ‘’ he said to make his point.
The SG further explained that they regard the site as one holding very sad memories and hence the Nama tribe’s views should be heard.
“In light of the human remains discovery made, we believe that it may be part of a mass grave and also that more remains might be on the sea bottom,’’ he argued. Dirkse continued that the NTLA has in the meantime deployed a forensic architecture team to the scene.
“They will now reconstruct on how the lives of our people would have been during the time of the Shark Island massacre,’’ he explained.
He also acknowledged the recently reported fallen memorial stone and said it might be caused by nature’s forces or deliberately destroyed by somebody.
In terms of the ongoing Nama/Ovaherero genocide negotiations, the secretary general alleges it is the view of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association and Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) that the Namibian government is supporting Germany in its efforts to suppress the genocide agenda.
“In light of the fact that government accept the reparation deal from Germany and also agreed to the joint declaration made, it become clear that government is busy negotiating on the issue without considering the respective Nama and Ovaherero leaders’ stance,’’ he emphasised. Dirkse continued that the (Landless People’s Movement, NTLA and OTA) are now in court with government to get the said joint declaration being pronounced as null and void. The SG in conclusion said they are now advocating for measures to bring about remembrance of the genocide issue, especially through implementing it in Namibian school’s curriculum.
Approached for comment, Lüderitz Town Council spokesperson, Elwin !Gaoseb said council take cognizance of the circulated social media articles of the memorial.
“The discovery by the deputy mayor, honourable Brigitte Fredericks and the public relations officer, alongside the University of London colleagues, of possible human remains at the Shark Island on 4 September 2023, remains emotional,” he explained.
!Gaoseb continued that council is equally awaiting the findings of ongoing police investigations prior to pronounce itself regarding the issue.
In his contribution, //Kharas crime investigations coordinator for the Namibian Police, Nicodemus Mbango, informed this publication that they are investigating the human remains discovery issue and that the site, upon request of the Nama/Ovaherero genocide committee, has been cordoned off .
“The discovery will be send to our forensic laboratory in Windhoek in order to determine the origin of it,” he explained.