The Affirmative Repositioning movement sends its deepest and sincere condolences to the family, relatives and friends of Prof Mburumba Kerina, who passed away on 14 June 2021. Prof Kerina played a great role in the liberation struggle of this nation. He is the first black man to petition the United Nations on the conditions faced by Namibians at the hands of the South African apartheid government. Also, he is the man who coined the name ‘Namibia’ against the colonial name ‘South West Africa’ (SWA) given to us by the white settlers.
The dedication of Prof Kerina was demonstrated through his principled participation in the struggle against apartheid South Africa. He was alongside some of Namibia’s national heroes such as Chief Hosea Kutako, Reverend Michael Scott, the late Advocate Jariretundu Kozonguizi, and founding President Dr Sam Nujoma, who petitioned the United Nations for Namibia on behalf of the Herero Chiefs’ Council. He understood that his participation in the liberation struggle was for a common good and for the masses, not for individual gain and personal victory. He was a genuine servant of the people.
Just like the wisdom of Steve Biko, who reminded us of the importance of identity in the wake of disunity, as a child Prof Kerina was known as Eric William Getzen. However, Prof Kerina decided to change his name after understanding where it came from. It was given to him by missionaries when the rights of children were not recognised. But when he became politically conscious, he divorced from that name and became known as Mburumba.
Importantly, it was during the difficult experiences at the time that apartheid South Africa was trying to incorporate Namibia to become its fifth province that Prof Kerina realised that Namibia was going to be annexed one day, and it would be the end of Namibia. Soon afterwards, he wrote an article that our country should be named the ‘Republic of Namib’, and the nationality of the people must be referred to as Namibians. That then gave us an identity internationally when the United Nations adopted this name, with support from political parties such as Swapo.
Between 1972 and 1979, Prof Kerina worked as a lecturer in the United States of America, and also worked as an Associate Professor in the African Studies Department at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He also holds a PhD in Political Science from the Pandacan State University of Bandung in Indonesia. Nonetheless, despite his academic accolades, Prof. Mburumba returned home and served his people at all levels of government. He held a seat in the Constituent Assembly of Namibia for the Federal Convention of Namibia (FDN), as well as the position of Deputy Speaker of the House. In 1990, he resigned from politics, but returned in 1998 as the regional councillor for the Aminuis constituency for the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA). Afterwards, he was elected to serve in the National Council.
Prof Kerina inspired a lot of hope and confidence in our generation, and what distinguished him from the majority of the liberation struggle politicians was his ability to listen and concede to logic, even though he held views contrary to that, to us, he was the opposite of what we term political zombies. He was open to enhance and harness his ideological and political comprehension.
He understood the struggle of the youth and was, therefore, a firm believer of radical youth transformation. However, in a time when politics is becoming trapped
in narrow and reactionary nationalism, the loss of Prof Kerina will leave a deficit to the efforts of nation- building.
The AR movement salutes Prof Kerina, and holds dear the words and mission that he bestowed upon us as a movement and as revolutionaries.
May his soul rest in revolutionary peace, and may those of us who come after him learn an important character from him that political struggle is not about self-enrichment and self-gratification, but about service to humanity!