Namibian traditional leaders and their flocks will this weekend, Heritage Weekend in South Africa and also in Namibia join their kinsmen and women from the South African and Botswana Diaspora to mark 110 years since erstwhile Ovaherero paramount chief Samuel Maharero and his people arrived in the then province of Transvaal, today’s Limpopo Province. Maharero and his people were not there on an adventurous expedition, but were in retreat from Imperial Germany’s onslaught. As per the October 2, 1904 extermination order, read to them by the then commander of German imperial forces in the then Deutsch Südwest Afrika, Lothar von Trotha, they were meant to have been wiped off of the face of the earth. As much as the South Africans and Batswana of Namibian descent have been emphasising culture and are desirous of exchanging cultural practices with their kith and kin, in view of their own cultural deprivation, this is also a solemn occasion, given the sad history that rendered them practically stateless. But often such platforms become turf for bigotry and rivalry, with traditional groupings from Namibia the guilty parties, transporting their self-imposed and perceived tribal differences and nonsensical shenanigans to such foreign turfs. This risks contaminating otherwise solemn occasions and creates unnecessary embarrassment for themselves and their hosts. It is not in African cultural decorum to speak ill of one’s leaders, but our traditional leaders in Namibia have rarely been conscious of the responsibility that comes with their revered status. Their benign flocks expect exemplary leadership from them, especially on foreign turf, where their kith and kin have been welcoming them with nostalgia and much expectation, to pass onto them the baton of cultural affinity that they can be proud of. Instead of embarrassments and shame. That is why on the 110th anniversary, one cannot but hope and pray, especially to the ancestors, to show these traditional leaders the way. If only for now and on this specific occasion, for the sake of their kinsfolk in the Diaspora and to be able to share with them the eccentricities of their traditions, cultures and customs. As well as their proud history, a history written in the sacrifices of the ancestors, foremost their highest sacrifice, their lives, with thousands and thousands having perished in all kinds of brutal manner visited on them by Imperial Germany. One cannot but notice, and indeed be grateful that many Botswana and South African dignitaries shall be gracing the occasion with their presence. Hence, needless to say Namibian traditional leaders must display the necessary leadership decorum befitting leaders of a people not only meeting their long lost cousins, but also the hosts all these years of their kin. And so that they may cultivate in them the necessary understanding of the case they have been seized with, which is the claim for restitution. The claim for restitution is far from over. In fact the only ground that has so far been covered extensively is international awareness of the history of genocides in Namibia, especially the Ovaherero and Nama, as well as their claim for restitution. While admittedly enough ground has been covered in this, it is not yet Uhuru. Until the government of the Federal Republic of Germany awakens to the reality as to who the real victims, and thus bonafide claimants with the necessary locus standi in this matter are. To acknowledge them as such, speak to them and negotiate with them. There can be no doubt that we are far from having reached this Rubicon. Thus as our leaders meet with fellow leaders from Botswana and South Africa this weekend, they must look at the bigger picture: the need for the cultural renaissance among their fellows in South Africa and Botswana, and the claim for restitution. Very often these traditional leaders have pretended on such occasions to have buried the hatchet only thereafter to retrogress to their usual divisive and divided laagers. Such pretense cannot be in the best interest of the broader victims of genocide, wherever they may be in the three countries. The occasion serves as a golden opportunity for our traditional leaders to make the necessary contacts with their peers, as well as political leaders in South Africa and Botswana, to work out how together and as equal descendants of the victims - and indeed as victims themselves - they can join forces in advancing the cause for restitution as a united force until its logical conclusion.
2017-09-22 10:09:12 1 years ago