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Leaders fight for seat at table in genocide dealings

2023-05-29  Steven Klukowski

Leaders fight for seat at table in genocide dealings

KEETMANSHOOP - Nama Traditional Leaders’ Association (NTLA) chairperson Gaob Johannes Isaack said the association, together with the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA), will keep on fighting for their inalienable right of self-representation during ongoing genocide negotiations.

This was his stern message when delivering the keynote address during the official opening of the 2023 edition of the annual Nama Cultural Festival in this southern town last Friday. “Because of our legal status as Nama and Ovaherero people, national and international legal instruments demand our direct engagement as necessary parties in all aspects of genocide negotiations with Germany,” said Isaack.

The /Hai //Khaua Traditional Authority’s leader observed that it is required from the Presidency to respond to the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence during these negotiations. “The NTLA feels obliged to remind the two governments that our demand is not for development assistance, but accountability and reparations,” he said. He also raised concern about the continuous exclusion and discrimination against Nama and Ovaherero people, which he said might not guarantee the non-recurrence of another genocide against the same groups. 

“Any explanation and/or motivation by the two governments which does not meet our demands shall remain irrelevant,” emphasised the Gaob.

Moreover, he noted that despite the fact that unity is valued by everyone in society and the nation at large, it is important to emphasise the need for patience, courage and determination in order to understand and overcome unavoidable challenges in life accordingly. 

“My late brother, Gaob Stephanus Goliath, and I met and overcame those challenges for unity,” said Isaak. He then bemoaned the challenge of many Nama tribes currently not enjoying access to their ancestral land and who are, as a result, being accommodated by sister tribes because they are not recognised by government. 

“Nama traditional leaders have in the past requested for adherence to existing laws, and the review of the Traditional Authorities Act to prevent political influence on traditional leaderships because this is causing unnecessary leadership disputes, “ Isaack said at the opening ceremony. 

The Gaob likewise thanked “the progressive and youthful” Nama Cultural Festival Organising Committee for creating a platform for the promotion and celebration of the Nama people’s culture. “Thanks also to our local and regional leadership of the Hardap and //Kharas regions for their prompt and heartfelt response in support of the preservation and promotion of our Nama traditions and culture,” he continued.

In his welcoming remarks, Keetmanshoop mayor McDonald Hanse said he hopes the cultural festival will continue to advance the history of the Nama people, and cement the relationships between those living in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana. 

“Nama feasts are, therefore, such a good millieu of providing the rare chance to get to know, trust and learn from each other,” he said. Hanse added that the traditional gathering also gives younger generations a sense of belonging, and called on leaders to promote and safeguard cultural practices and traditions whicvh have held people together over many centuries. 


2023-05-29  Steven Klukowski

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