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Opinion: Tribute to Professor Mburumba Kerina

2021-06-24  Staff Reporter

Opinion: Tribute to Professor Mburumba Kerina
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On 14 June 2021, Professor Mburumba Kerina’s last born daughter Jacqueline Kapuuo-  Kerina informed me about the passing on of her father.  It was devastating news which torn my heart into pieces and left my head spinning.

Prof Kerina’s first residence was just a stone’s throw away from my grandmother’s house where I grew up. His second wife, late Evalhardine Kurindiro Kapuuo-Kerina, was a cousin to my grandfather, the late David Hosea Meroro.

At a very tender age, I became interested in events that many youths brushed aside as uninteresting. I was able to mingle with traditional and political leaders who were imbued with natural intelligence. 

It was men such as Professor Kerina and Bankie Forster Bankie who opened my eyes and introduced me to a much wider world. Prof Kerina was a man imbued with vast knowledge and a very sharp memory. I attended many Pan-Africanist meetings with some of these leading scholars in this field and this was where I started my personal journey of self-discovery and self-definition as an African. l can describe Kerina as a visionary scholar who was able to see what others could not see. 

Over the past 15 years, l developed a close relationship with Prof Kerina and many people were envious of our close bond of friendship and my loyalty to him. 

Our discussions would range from his early petitions, Pan-Africanism, global Politics and Ovaherero-Nama genocide and reparations, a cause he championed since the early 1960s. 

Professor Kerina is a great grandson of the Scottish man Friedrick Thomas Green (4 April 1829 – 5 May 1876). Green was a hunter, explorer and trader in what is now Namibia. Green used to sell guns to Ovaherero in exchange for cattle during the Ovaherero-Nama war. The Ovaherero could not pronounce the surname “Green’’ and that was how the surname “Kerina” was adopted. 

Green married Kaipukire and travelled with her to the north but left her in the Tsumeb area as she was expecting their daughter Kaera. Kaera married a German soldier Leinhos whom she later divorced and married Getzen. 

Kaera gave birth to Kasondoro Magdalena Getzen and to other two children Kapuku (a boy) and Susana (a girl). Kasondoro Magdalena Getzen married Hans Kambandi, who was the father of Prof Kerina. Kaera Getzen, was the sister of the first Ovaherero Paramount Chief Kahitjene ua Muhoko.

After he had left the country in 1952, Prof Kerina, together with Reverend Michael Scott, became among the first petitioners at the United Nations (UN) to lobby for Namibia’s independence. He was later joined by Jariretundu Kozonguizi and Sam Nujoma. When Kerina received a scholarship to further his studies abroad, the Chiefs’ Council wrote a petition on white handkerchiefs which were sewn into his underpants when he boarded a ship in 1952 from Walvis Bay Pelican point. He enrolled at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in January, 1953 for a BA Degree.

While in the US, Kerina was instrumental in the formation of both the Ovamboland People’s Congres (OPC) and the Ovamboland People’s Organisation (OPO). He requested late Herman Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo to send oral hearings to the UN to expose the hardships experienced by Namibian contract labourers in South Africa. One of the petitions was smuggled in a book called ‘Treasure lsland’. That led to the deportation of Ya Toivo from Cape Town to Namibia.

By 1957, when he became politically conscious, he completely divorced the name “Eric William Getzen’’ to become “Mburumba Kerina’’ stating that he was given the name when his right as a boy was not recognised.

Kerina wrote to both Nujoma and late Louis Nelangani who had joined the executive of Swanu in the interest of national unity to transform the existing organisation OPO to Swapo, which was formed in 1960. Kerina became the first Swapo chairman and Nujoma its president. 

When Prof Kerina rejoined Swapo a few years ago, a journalist asked him why he decided to rejoin the ruling party, his response was: “ I have, never left Swapo, it was only my body which left Swapo, my soul and mind have always been with Swapo.” 

When ‘Prof’ went for Covid-19 test, he asked his driver to find where I was and to pick me up.  I waited but unfortunately, they never showed up, little did I know that that was the final phone call. 

Go well my elder, friend and comrade.

2021-06-24  Staff Reporter

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