Last Friday - like on many other similar occasions before - saw a solemn event during the official reception of the third repatriation of the mortal remains of those who perished in the wars of resistance, and ultimately in the resultant 1904-1908 genocide.
There was a mixed bag of those who graced this occasion politically, ideologically, ethnically and culturally and also religiously.
Expectedly, the messages could not have been anything but equally as divergent with little semblance of convergence. This could not have left anyone but wondering despite some impressions that a rubicon might be on the horizon in terms of a closure on the issue of genocide and reparations, especially with the government of the Federal Republic of Germany finally acknowledging that what it has been referring to as atrocities, was indeed genocide.
Indeed, the various speakers and their views on the issue of genocide and reparations cannot but have been plotted on an asymmetric pendulum like they have been for some years.
The soothing welcoming remarks of Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua, emphasising especially the solemnity of the occasion, seem of no consequence to some of the speakers to whom the occasion was indeed a golden platform to get their own back, whatever this may have been.
First among the speakers was a representative of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association, Johannes Isaacks, who formed part of the Namibian delegation to Germany to collect the skulls.
At Parliament Gardens the traditional leader seemed to have pick up from where he left off in Germany when he appealed for truthfulness, especially in the dealings of the Namibian and German governments, obviously a reference to the supposed exclusion of some leaders of the affected communities from the ongoing negotiations.
On Friday the traditional leaders took the bull by the horn by touching on the land issue – which is directly linked to the genocide as part of the confrontation was due to forced dispossessions.
In the grand scheme of things, this was part of the 1884 Berlin Conference when colonial powers abrogated themselves the liberty of caving up the continent among themselves without the indigenes having had any voice.
Fast track this to modern-day democratic Namibia, 134 years after Europe’s scramble from Africa. Isaack fears that the indigenes, from the looks of things, would not have had the chance to speak on their own behalf about their land being dispossessed. Speaking at the occasion was Chief Manasse Zeraeua, who threw a broadside at fellow genocide victims for their not so envious attitude for their participation in the ongoing negotiations between the two governments.
Can the two governments in this regard really afford to stumble, let alone stutter with this sword of Chief Zeraeua and indeed his fellow travelers vigilantly hanging over Namibia’s special envoy, Dr Zed Ngavirue, as indeed over his German counterpart, Ruprecht Polenz, like the biblical sword of Damocles?
Then came Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro, gun smoking and spitting fire as expected, being the among those who consider themselves excluded from the genocide negotiations.
“They will not be interested in joining advisory and technical committees of the special envoy but that our leader will only be interested in being part of the decision making structures of the negotiations between the two governments - nothing short of that,” he said.
He, for the umpteenth time, reiterated the position of the excluded of which is he is one significant link that the two governments could only ignore at the peril of ntheir own negotiations.
“As a politician, as a member of the German government, and as a member and on behalf of a young generation of German politicians, I am convinced that the time has come for us to learn. The time for change has come,” German minister of state, Michelle Münterfering who accompanied the mortal remains from Germany, interspersed.
This is before Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba finally appealed to the “remaining affected Namibian communities who have not yet joined the dialogue under the leadership of the government’s Special Envoy Dr Zedekia Ngavirue to do so, for us to seek closure on this matter as a united Namibian nation in a united Namibian house.”
One cannot agree more with the VP. Indeed the matter needs closure. Yes Münterfering must be so right that the time has come and so much that only the young generation can bring this closure. It is not clear whether this generation include the breed of both politicians and traditional leaders.