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Tensions mount over Red Flag Day

2022-07-13  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Tensions mount over Red Flag Day

Fears of another physical confrontation mount as two factions within the Ovaherero traditional authority plan to host different events for the commemoration of Red Flag Day scheduled for this weekend at Okahandja.

The factions clashed in late January at Ovaherero Commando in Windhoek. 

The fight, which was allegedly over the keys of the building, led to one man being shot. 

The injured man was transported to the hospital while the alleged shooter was arrested. 

The weekend’s commemoration comes at a time when the gaping division within the traditional authority threatens to spill over.

One faction led by acting OTA paramount chief Vipuira Kapuuo confirmed last week they would commemorate the annual Red Flag Day at Okahandja this weekend.

Similarly, the faction led by self-proclaimed paramount chief Mutjinde Katjiua announced last week that they planned to hold a similar event at the same venue on the same weekend.

The fight for the paramount chieftaincy of the traditional authority has fuelled the factions after the death of paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro. 

The unveiling of the gravestone of the late Rukoro on the day of the event has further exacerbated the ill feeling between the two factions.

Namibian Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga yesterday said he was not aware of the two factions’ plans to commemorate Red Flag Day on the same weekend but advised everyone to observe the day in harmony and peace.

“Our heroes buried there will not be at peace if we are to fight each other. Those who will be there should commemorate this day in a brotherly framework of peace and harmony,” Ndeitunga said.

Contacted for comment, Otjozondjupa governor James Uerikua said he was not aware of any rivalry within the Ovaherero community. 

“What I am informed of is the commemoration of the Red Flag Day this weekend. In terms of rivalry, I am not aware. I have been busy focusing on development. Right now, I am in Tsumkwe officiating developmental projects,” Uerikua said.

Family spokesperson Phillip Kavetuna, who is allegedly supporting Kapuuo, announced the unveiling of Rukoro’s tombstone will be done during this weekend.

However, Dina Rukoro, the surviving spouse of the late chief, warned Kapuuo and the Ovaherero Red Flag Association (RFA) commanders against coming anywhere close to arrangements concerning the unveiling of the departed chief’s tombstone. 

Dina, Rukoro’s son Nguvitjita, brother Hiripura Kuhanga and uncle Jaruavi Katoore informed the Kapuuo faction that they had decided to give Katjiua the power and responsibility to plan, direct, and manage the late chief’s tombstone unveiling.

Responding to the lawyer’s letter last week, The Ovaherero Red Flag Association (RFA), the Ovaherero body traditionally tasked with organising the Ovaherero Red Flag Day, distanced itself against the unveiling of the tombstone, citing family squabbling.

“Due to  the unfortunate squabbles in the paternal and maternal family who are currently threatening each other with court orders, the Red Flag Association was left with no option than to cancel that event completely,” the association’s patron Ben Zaaruka said last week. 

 Zaaruka, appointed by the late Rukoro as the Red Flag patron in 2019, said traditionally, tombstone unveilings are family matters, so if they are not wanted, it is not a problem but advised the family to shift the unveiling to another day to allow the commemoration of Red Flag Day to proceed unhindered.

“They can do the unveiling any day, Monday or even Tuesday or any other day but not on the Red Flag Day commemoration,” said Zaaruka, the northern business tycoon who in 2015 donated N$1 million to the traditional authority’s development trust fund.

“They must resolve their family issues elsewhere and not involve us. We have nothing to do with the tombstone unveiling; we simply thought it would be appropriate to do so during the commemoration; if they do not want to, that is fine,” Zaaruka said while referring to the lawyers letter addressed to them by Rukoro’s family.

Katjiua, at a separate press conference last week, said his faction will commemorate the Red Flag Day during the weekend of the 16 to 17th July. 

“We shall be paying homage to our heroes as we have done so since 1923 when we interred the remains of our second paramount chief Samuel Maharero upon their repatriation from Botswana,” Katjiua said.

“We were commandeered by our third paramount chief, the legendary Hosea Kutako, to gather annually to reflect on the loss we have suffered because of the genocide by Germany, to rebuild family ties, our dignity and culture and to celebrate heroes and heroines.”

Katjiua said they are very much aware of external forces to destabilise the Ovaherero by installing “a leader within the OTA” who, according to him, will be agreeable to the “sell-out joint declaration that Germany and Namibia want to force onto the Ovaherero and Nama – at the expense of the Ovaherero and Nama people the world over.

“We and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association are dealing with this systematically,” he said.



2022-07-13  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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