OKAHANDJA - The contentious and long-standing issues of land and genocide dominated speeches of speakers during the 50th commemoration of the death of revered nationalist and Ovaherero paramount chief Hosea Kutako.
Chief Kutako, who is hailed as an indomitable nationalist, died at the age of 100 on 18 July 1970. President Hage Geingob in a statement last week reminded Namibians to honour the memory of the late Kutako by promoting unity as well as fighting against division, tribalism and racism.
Landless People Movement (LPM) leader Bernadus Swartbooi, who was among the dignitaries at the Okahandja event, said the unresolved land question would have left Kutako wondering.
“I wonder what he was going to ask those who speak of unity. Was he going to accept that they speak of unity but the system, they represent create disunity in the community? I was wondering what he is going to say about the landlessness of the Ovaherero community that sacrificed everything all the time for the freedom of this land,” said Swartbooi.
The opposition politician further added many Namibians, including residents of Okahandja are languishing in poverty and without land. “When a government is acting like a parasite, to tell the Germans to give them 80% of the reparation and 20% to the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama then I don’t know… Namibians why are you quiet?” he questioned.
“If Kutako was alive today, some of these boys here would have been told to step aside and to sit down because Kutako stood for unity, truthfulness and honesty. That was Kutako the father of the Namibian nation we know.”
Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani told those at the gathering that the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Nama have a strong genocide case, but it was important for all affected communities to stand together.
“Paramount Rukoro, our genocide case is strong but only when we stand together as one. Let us not wait for outsiders to tell us to come together, let them find us together,” Venaani said. Speaking at the same occasion, Nudo president Utjiua Muinjangue said Kutako would not have been happy with the progress made with regards to the genocide issue.
“Chief Kutako played a historic and significant role in petitioning the United Nations demanding the placement of the then South West Africa under the United Nations trusteeship system. In this way, he played a major role in Namibia’s struggle for freedom and independence,” she said.
“Chief Kutako would not have been happy in the way the current government is handling the genocide issue, therefore, it is very important that we relook on the way to bring the affected communities on the negotiating table.”
Muinjangue also criticised the land reform programme, which she said was not done equitably. “Those that have lost land should be the first in the queue when it comes to the resettlement process,” Muinjangue, who is also the health deputy minister, said.
In his keynote address, Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro shared the same sentiments with other speakers.
“Why should we buy a piece of land that our ancestors paid with their blood for? Why? A piece of land just for one to put a roof over your head - this land belongs to us, to our ancestors who paid with their blood for it,” Rukoro said.
Rukoro further implored the Germans to apologise unreservedly and pay reparations to the descendants of the Nama and Ovaherero for atrocities committed between 1904-1907. “The Germans must apologise to us the descendants of the victims of the genocide. Only after this unfinished business between us and the Germans shall we close this chapter started by them will we rest,” Rukoro said to a cheering crowd. – firstname.lastname@example.org