• August 10th, 2020

Ancestral land must not be a self-serving issue


Could the writing be on the wall regarding the ancestral land, not only in terms of it as one of the items on agenda of the forthcoming 2nd land national land conference in October, but the conference also adopting a resolution on it? No. Unlike in neighbouring South Africa where the ANC have lately made great advances on land, including only this week when its lekgotla agreed to a change in the country’s constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, it is not even clear which first hurdle Namibia needs to jump over to start moving towards addressing the land question in all earnest, especially perhaps the most burning aspect and cardinal part of it, ancestral land. Not only this but about two months before the land conference, the country is not even any closer to being clear of what it means with land reform and what and where the land is needing reform. Does Namibia currently have land that needs to be reformed or is she preposterously talking about the land that is in private ownership, so to speak the land in white commercial hands? The very land some Namibians are claiming as their own, hence the reference to ancestral land. Ancestral land which is not just another issue but one of high priority that hitherto the government must take on board and find a solution to. This solution being nothing less than restoring its claimant, at least in the thinking and disposition of the land dispossessed. Because it also remains to be seen who the land dispossessed actually are who are often so much referred to in many a government’s policies with respect to land reform. It is the very ancestral land that is the motive for the newfound camaraderie by the usually politically eclectic traditional leaders of the OvaHerero and Ovambanderu communities. A camaraderie that revealed itself at the land consultations for Omaheke at the end of last week, if this is anything to go by and is not something transient. On the sidelines of the consultations and the working groups, leaders from these communities in all their shades and sizes, hues and creeds, seem for once in a long time, to be in consensus. Ovambanderu, who have been divided in many splinter groups, were in what may be a rarity, and perhaps the first and the last together under one roof meaningfully reflecting and clamouring on the sidelines of the consultations, for a common ground on ancestral land and the need to consolidate their respective positions on this before the October 2nd national land conference. As much the OvaHerero, both communities inter and intra, whether some are not recognised by the government seemed not to matter at all there and then in Gobabis. In Gobabis, both new and ancient and historical feuds seemed to have been temporarily forgotten and suspended for the sake of the bigger and common issue of ancestral land. Bigger, it seems, than the individual chieftaincies and/or royalties. This is indeed a new beginning, if the beginning made already, going by the goodwill of the traditional leaders present, cannot be undone by those who were not present and the envisaged consultations go ahead as intended and planned. It is also interesting to note that the ancestral land issue is not only bigger than any individual, traditional OvaHerero and Ovambanderu community, but as much it is also bigger than any region. Because as far as the Ovambanderu and OvaHerero traditional communities are concerned, they are not prepared to leave to the monopoly of any region, or any linguistic group, not even their usual haughty self. Cognisant of the ancestral land claims of other non-Otjiherero-speaking communities, they are adamant to dislodge it from their own region and communities and reach out to other regions and other linguistic and cultural groups, notably the Damara and Nama cultural groups, specifically the Khomanin community, claiming their ancestral land in the Khomas Region. It may be too early for their intent to bear fruit. But surely their intention is as noble as it can be. The only hope is that hegemonic traditional leaders, always out to monopolise matters affecting all, shall this time around not be blinded by their usual shortsightedness, myopia and egoism, to throw spanners in these works which very much are still work in conceptualisation and inception. Just because they may not have been there when this noble idea was hatched despite equally important members of their traditional authorities being there. Ancestral land claims belong to all staking their claims, and it is only necessary for all those with such claims to support one another and to make their claim one formidable and inalienable right, and claim. Not only this, if what transpired in the Oshana Region during the consultations there as per media reports is anything to go, communities with ancestral land claims surely have their work cut out. Closing ranks cannot be a half-hearted and self-serving matter but surely a matter of communal interest.
New Era Reporter
2018-08-03 09:42:25 | 2 years ago

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