Last month, the government, through a decision of President Hage G. Geingob, started the construction of a shrine in honour of Chief Hosea Katjikururume Kutako at his homestead of Toasis, Aminius, in order to accord dignity for the achievements of Chief Kutako as a consequential Namibian.
Chief Kutako fought heroically against the brutal German Schutztruppe in 1904-1908 and was wounded in the process. He was a brave warrior and survivor of the first Genocide of the 20th century committed by Germany against the Herero and Nama communities of our land. He went on to lead the disfigured Herero community as a unifying chief
and nationalist, with the twin
focus of rebuilding the Herero people after the genocide, and leading the fight for the national question of independence.
Chief Kutako, a petitioner to the United Nations, understood fully that the burning question of Genocide was not only one of the Herero community – it was also a national question and it needed to be treated and appreciated
fully in that dimension. When
Chief Kuaima Riruako consensually sought a resolution from the Namibian parliament in 2006 to locate the genocide as a national question, as some of us had
wanted, it was in continuity of what Chief Kutako would have preferred.
It deserves mention that our Special Envoy on the Herero/Nama Genocide, Dr Zed Ngavirue,
who was appointed in 2015 by President Geingob, is an outstanding Namibian from our affected community and
was among the young men who assisted Chief Kutako with the drafting of letters and correspondence to advance the cause of independence. The work of Chief Kutako and his inclusive and unifying vision for Namibians greatly influenced the path of the liberation struggle and its titans, including Sam Nujoma, Hage G. Geingob, Peter Hitjitevi Katjavivi, Hifikepunye Pohamba, Mosé Penaani Tjitendero, Hidipo Hamutenya, Moses Mague Garoeb and Theo-Ben Gurirab – to list but a few.
For over a 100 years, 113 years to be near exact, we wanted three things from Germany: Acceptance that the gruesome atrocities committed against us constituted genocide;
An apology from Germany; and
What did we get after 116 years as an affected community in the G.A.R? (1) Germany conceded that the untold violence against the Herero and Nama communities was Genocide. (2) Germany commenced the process of a formal apology as was pronounced by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on 28 May 2021 and reported across the globe as a development of great moral and historical significance for Namibians and the affected communities. (3) Germany put 1.1 billion euros (N$18 billion) to be deployed for the reconstruction of the affected communities.
Chief Kutako was a wise
pragmatic idealist, a stubborn man of principle, but of wisdom, clarity and vision, who understood what he wanted and did not want. As descendants of the victims of the genocide, we should fully appreciate what it is that we are for and against. Are we against or for Germany accepting that it committed genocide? Are we against the apology by Germany? We are definitely for Germany accepting it committed genocide against us. We are definitely for
an apology. We got what we wanted for the past 113 years.
We simply can’t afford to be agitators who are against everything and nothing – even when our moral interests – and to a certain degree, our material interests are to be covered. Yes, there are some of us in our affected community who are wealthy landowners and materially covered.
For some of us, the refurbishment of schools, infrastructure and electrification in our affected communities can wait another 100 years because our children are schooling abroad and we are in material comforts NOW.
Our children are secured in intra-generational wealth. But for the many who are drowning in poverty after the brutality of dispossession and the genocide, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Before we think about ourselves, we should think about them.
Yes, there are those who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. But we should not miss this opportunity. Yes, figures are important. But our dignity is not for sale to the highest bidder and figures and numbers cannot repair our scars.
As a member of this affected community, I have to ask myself the question: what is it that Chief Kutako would have done under
the circumstances? He would be proud and he would appreciate fully the moral significance of our collective victory, led ably by one of his skilled sons in the affected community, Ambassador Ngavirue.
Chief Kutako would also be proud of the fact that it is a government of an independent Namibia under the third President Hage G Geingob, which secured the G.A.R, above all, a moral victory, which ought to appeal to our conscience and our unity as a people.
The Marxist theorist and leftist militant Rosa Luxemburg says: “Those who do not move do not notice their chains”. We have been chained by the genocide as affected communities and Namibians.
Still, we should move forward to break the chains of an emotive question that has enslaved us. With the declaration, which will never be perfect, we have moved
forward and commenced the difficult process of freeing ourselves from the chains of the genocide. Yes, we cannot forget the genocide. But, we have to learn to live with it.
Our path as affected communities on the contentious question of genocide has reached a point of no return.
We should embrace the spirit of the declaration and begin the important work of moral healing and rebuilding of our affected communities.