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Clash over Kerina and Rukoro burial site

2021-07-05  Staff Reporter

Clash over Kerina and Rukoro burial site
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The Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) overturned the planned burial of the late Mburumba Kerina at the Ovaherero Burial Shrine, arguing that the site is reserved for paramount chiefs.

This is after Kerina’s remains were poised to be interred on Sunday morning at the same location and graveyard earmarked for the late Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro.

The clash comes after Ovitoto Chief Vipuira Kapuuo - as self-proclaimed acting paramount chief of the OTA - earlier gave the Kerina family and government
the go-ahead to bury the liberation struggle icon and United Nations petitioner at the shrine, where outstanding Herero and Nama leaders are buried.

“I hereby declare that in the event of closing my eyes [death] to join my creator and ancestors, I must be buried at the feet of my benefactor, the late Chief Hosea Kutako,” Kerina penned in 2017.

Kerina died on 14 June 2021 at a Windhoek hospital due to Covid-19 complications.

But his wish to be buried at the feet of the man who dispatched him to the UN in 1956 to internationalise the conditions Namibia endured under the repugnant South African apartheid regime was not to be. In a twist of events on Saturday night, the OTA threw a spanner in the works through a court interdict after it approached the courts on an urgent basis.

In the court papers seen by Nampa, it appears that Kerina was to be buried at the same spot which is reserved for Rukoro, who died just four days after Kerina.

“We regret to inform you that your request to bury him at Okahandja next to Hosea Kutako is not supported by the OTA. Alternatively, he can be buried at another cemetery next to the church in Okahandja as there is no space in the Heroes graveyard. The only spot is reserved for Paramount Chief Advocate Vekuii Rukoro,” Mutjinde Katjiua, the OTA secretary general, told the Kerina family. In a statement issued on Sunday, the OTA reaffirmed its position, noting that there is nothing sinister against the late Kerina, whom they hold in high regard. “This was an action to protect the sanctity of the sacred site that we as a community have set aside for our paramount chiefs. It is a site where Jonker Afrikaner, Hosea Kutako, Clemence Kapuuo, Kuaima Riruako and Hendriena Afrikaner, amongst others, are laid to rest. Our recently departed Paramount Chief, Adv. Vekuii Rukoro ua Kuhanga, will hopefully join this venerated group on 18 July,” Katjiua stated.

Azaria Kamburona, the late Oruuano Bishop, was also buried there in 2014. He was not a paramount chief.

Katjiua added: “This day (18 July) is significant as it is the date that the peerless Hosea Kutako left us, and it will be on that date that we intend to commit the indomitable Rukoro to our ancestor.”

This, he said, is informed by the values of rebuilding a broken people who survived genocide, and are building everything from scratch.

“We value our traditional and customary practices and prerogatives greatly, and are committed to defending them at all cost,” Katjiua noted.

Sources familiar with the situation told Nampa on Sunday that the family is divided on the matter. There is a group that wants to challenge OTA’s interdict, while another intends asking government for the burial to take place at the national Heroes’ Acre.

An insider also told Nampa that some of Kerina’s own children are “fed-up and want their father to be buried at the Khomasdal cemetery alongside his mother so that he can rest in peace”. -Nampa

2021-07-05  Staff Reporter

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