Is this time really ticking, and fast for that matter towards the Second National Land Conference with barely two weeks before the much anticipated Land Conference.
As fast as it may be ticking, the pertinent question is whether there is any reason for hopefulness, excitement and great expectations from this upcoming conference.
This is especially a questioning lingering almost worrisomely, if not disturbingly, among the land dispossessed communities. Worrisome and disturbed for being uncertain if the question close to their hearts and minds and souls, that of ancestral land, would ever be featuring, more so prominently so this conference would take any principled position on such a critical and vexed question of ancestral land, at least to them if not the whole country.
Unknown to officialdom this question has been rendering many a land dispossessed communities many a sleepless nights due the uncertainty around whether this question would receive the necessary attention. This in terms of being discussed broadly and exhaustively, As opposed not featuring at all and if it features receiving only scant attention and by-the-way mention before being swept under the carpet ultimately. This uncertainty has lately been fueled by official pronouncements such as “Namibia is our ancestral land,” whatever this means and may mean. But certainly this and many other less and non-reassuring if not totally negative and dismissive public utterances by officialdom, has been a great source of concern to many a land dispossessed communities. Hence, as far as they are concerned, their consternation about fruitfulness of the conference, similarly to the First National Land Conference in 1991. The latter did not produce anything of consequence as far as delivering land to the landless, starting from the urban areas for shelter, in the least to the communal areas for agrarian production, including animal husbandry.
But most concerning as far as the land dispossessed, with specific reference to the victims of Genocide, is that ancestral land seemingly is not part of other thematic presentations like land reforms in countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe, which indeed are necessary and instructive that Namibia herself has something to learn from. As well as land governance and tenure security, suspiciously to be presented by the World Bank, to mention but a few of the thematic issues but from which interestingly ancestral land and restitution is conspicuously missing and is absent. Nor can one seem to detect mention anywhere on the land conference’s programme about ancestral land and restitution except during the group sessions. Given the cardinality of the land question to Namibia currently, not to mention its criticality and importance to a section of the Namibian population, especially that section which during the colonial period was not only subjected to plunder of their property, including their livestock and land, but consequently had to sacrifice their mother- and fatherland with the highest sacrifice, their lives, it cannot but be mindboggling and highly suspect why ancestral land and restitution seems only to be tucked away without it, important as it, featuring prominently on the agenda of the said conference.
And to be presented as especially as may be by presenters from the affected communities other being tucked away in group discussions. As much as ancestral land and restitution would be featuring during the group discussions, would it not do justice to this issue, especially being at the center of ongoing negotiations on genocide and reparations between the Namibian and German government, for it to have been led and for such discussions to be preceded and informed at the thematic part of the conference with presentation(s) by experts from within the dispossessed communities, and beyond and even from neighbouring countries such as South Africa that is also dealing with the matter. It simply defies logic why such scant and indifference approach to an issue of such magnitude, which significantly underlines, and/or should underline the current engagement between the two governments, pertains to the issue of genocide and reparations. Surely there cannot be any basis for engagement the German government on genocide and reparations if this cannot inextricably be linked to land.
There cannot be denying the fact that the first thing that the German colonisers did when occupying the country, was at the same time confiscating the land of the indigenous people. When the indigenous people resisted the occupation of their lands, they met their death as per the extermination orders issued against them one 1904 against the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu, and the other in 1905 against the Nama. The wars that the German colonisers carried against the indigenous people were not intrinsic in themselves, just because by nature the colonisers were warmongers. Instead it was a means to an end. To subjugate the indigenous people and then to take over their lands. The indigenous people, for the sake of their land, had to be subjugated by any means necessary, even death and genocide as it came to be. It thus defies logic that the Namibian government while negotiating reparations, it is at the same time claiming and playing ignorance about ancestral land, the very means of production known to the indigenous people then, and which was the reason for their genocide. There’s no way the indigenous people can claim for the lives of their ancestors because on such they cannot put any price. On the contrary they indeed can and have been putting a price on their earthly possessions such as land and livestock. This land is none other than the ancestral land.