Mburumba Kerina – politician, author and pioneer of Namibia’s petitioning to the United Nations (UN) in the early 1960s (1932 … )

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WILLIAM Eric Getzen known as Mburumba Kerina was born on 6 June 1932.

 He is a Namibian politician, academic and author who is one of the co-founding members of Swapo, the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo), the Federal Convention of Namibia (FCN) and other smaller parties in the 1950s. 

Kerina reportedly coined the name “Namib” for an independent state of “Namibia”, then still the colonised South-West Africa.

Kerina was among the first petitioners to the United Nations (UN) in 1950 for Namibian independence on behalf of the Herero Chief’s Council, besides icons like Hosea Kutako, Jariretundu Kozonguizi, Hans Beukes, Markus Kooper, Ismael Fortune, as well as the Founding Father, Dr Sam Nujoma.

Kerina founded Nudo which was known at that time as an organisation for Herero followers. 

In 1978 Kerina founded the Namibia Patriotic Coalition (NPC) which entered into an alliance with the Rehoboth Liberation Front (LF) and the Liberal Party (LP). 

The NPC became non-operational and was reestablished in 1982 under the Namibia National Democratic Coalition (NNDC).

In 1988, Kerina co-founded the Federal Convention of Namibia (FCN) with Hans Diergaardt, who became its president.

During the liberation struggle Kerina while in Indonesia coined the name “Namib”. 

Kerina wrote an opinion piece in an Indonesian publication in which he talked about a yet to be created country “Namib” and its national movement “Namibianism”.

After independence he became a member of the Constituent Assembly, the National Assembly as well as the National Council.

Kerina is also the author of the book ‘Namibia, the Making of a Nation’, as well as the book ‘Chief Hosea Kutako, the Chief and Legend.’ 

He is a great-grandson of explorer and trader Frederick Thomas Green, from which he derived his surname “Kerina” which is a way of expressing  the word “green” in Otjiherero. 

Born in Tsumeb and raised in Walvis Bay, he schooled in Windhoek where he attended St Barnabas Anglican church school. 

With the help of Reverend Michael Scott, Kerina was able to study in the United States in 1953 where he enrolled at the Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

On 10 December 1959 the Old Location Uprising in Windhoek gave the liberation struggle a different direction when the police opened fire on protesters killing 11 and wounding 44 others. 

One of the the people who died was Kerina’s brother. The event was one of the factors leading to Swapo turning the independence struggle into an armed conflict.  

Kerina furthered his studies and graduated from the New School for Social Research, New York, and between 1960 and 1962 he obtained his PhD at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, Indonesia.

While in the United States, Kerina worked as a lecturer at the New York City School of Visual Arts between the years 1966 and 1968  and later become an associate professor at the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, in 1968-1971.

Upon his return from the US to Namibia he was denied access and instead stayed in Botswana but was expelled after some time and moved to Tanzania.

He also worked as a consultant between 1982 and 1992.