• June 19th, 2019
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A vow to remember Kooitjie, and to recover

WINDHOEK- A ceremony of religious worship to commemorate the life of a person, typically someone who has recently died, this is how the Oxford Living Dictionary defines a memorial service.

This is exactly what transpired in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN)’s Bethel congregation on Tuesday in Katutura. 

Hundreds of worshippers from indeed various denominations with a sprinkling of politicians, predominantly government office-bearers, and traditional leaders filed the benches of the church to memorialise in praise, the life of late chief Seth Madawa Kooitjie, of the Aonin, also known as the Topnaar of the Kuiseb Valley in the Namib Desert. The common thread running through the various tributes, among them by the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Peya Mushelenga, was the dedication of Kooitjie to the welfare and well-being of his people. 

Foremost among such dedication ensuring that his people gained maximum economic benefit from the !Nara plant, to the extent that the !Nara plant, a habitat of the Namib desert, has become synonymous with the Aonin people. 

Mushelenga in particular testified to the late Kooitjie’s passion for his work as a traditional leader, especially in the upliftment of his people. Due to his efforts the Utuseb community in the Kuiseb Valley today boasts of modern facilities such as a clinic, school and a kindergarten. He said the late chief played a pivotal role in the annual meetings of the Council of Traditional Leaders, as one of two close aides with Kauluma, who also has just passed on, to both the chairperson, Elifas Kauluma and his deputy, Immanuel /Gaseb, chief of the !Oe-#Gan traditional community. /Gaseb, present at the memorial service had earlier highlighted late Kooitjie’s contributions to the Council of Traditional Leaders as one of his right hand close aides. 

Mushelenga went to credit the late chief with strengthening the Council, being in particular instrumental in its high-level investigating committee into disputes between and among traditional communities pertaining to especially succession. He lauded him for his vision and dedication to his people concluding that he has departed having accomplished his mission. 
With the departure of late Kooitjie, /Gaseb who informed the congregation that they had been busy with the late chief with some work for the Council, with some workshops pending in Otjiwarongo, sounded a cautionary note with regard to succession given that succession among traditional communities and authorities have been a disputed and emotive issue. He thus implored the Aonin community to handle succession with the necessary sensitivity and by adhering to the community’s customary law. 

Indeed the occasion was a true memorialisation of the life of the late Kooitjie by all who have been close to him, especially the various strands and shades of the Nama communities that he served as the chair of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association. In numbers and religious and traditional zeal, they packed the congregation to give praise to the supernatural power that has given them a selfless leader that late Kooitjie was, vowing to “remember to recover”.

This could not be but be interpreted in the sense of a cultural revival of his people that late Kooitjie stood and fought for. Not to mention the outstanding issue of genocide and reparations, of which late Kooitjie was also a leading leader. 

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
2019-02-14 09:58:02 4 months ago

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