• May 29th, 2020

This is our ancestral land

Peter Naameondeya Peter

As we recently concluded the second national land conference, I thought I should correct some wrong perceptions held by those championing the ancestral land debate. I believe that wrong perceptions are a result of miseducation of those making these wild ancestral land claims.

Chief among their claims is that the northern Owambo tribes did not lose ancestral land. In fact one vocal ancestral land claimant is on record saying that most of the mineral riches are deposited in what he refers to as their land and nothing much is found in Owamboland.

When this chorus started, the president of our republic was angered by the tribalistic undertones of this song and therefore rhetorically asked where the San are who are known to be the original inhabitants of the land.

Very conveniently the ancestral land claimants changed the song to include people whom they recognise as San but still not the Owambo tribes. This ancestral land song has become so menacing that I decided to write this article to re-educate the miseducated.

The San, according to history, both oral and written, are the original inhabitants of Africa, but for the purposes of this article I will confine myself to Southern Africa and in particular to Namibia and Southern Angola.
Before anybody else settled in present day Namibia, it is undisputed that the San were already here. And they roamed the entire length and breadth of Namibia.

Sometime later the Owambo tribes of northern Namibia and Southern Angola came from the Great Lakes region of East and Central Africa and settled in the Cuvelai delta, which was known as Owamboland.
When the Owambo tribes arrived, they found the original inhabitants of the land, especially the Hai //om, !Kung,Khwe and Ju /hoausi. What happened next is the actual reason for this article.

The new arrivals [Owambos] made peace with the locals and instead of exterminating them decided on a deliberate policy of integration through intermarriages.

The Owambo kings encouraged their subjects to marry the locals. In fact it became a tradition that among the wives of a reigning king at least one must be a San. These intermarriages continue today.

It should be noted therefore that the reason why you do not find many pure blooded San people in the northern areas is not because they died out but because they are so mixed and integrated into Owambo society, to the extent that they are actually the modern day Owambos.

Therefore, to us, Owambo children, the San are not a separate tribe. They are our ancestors. We are their descendants and consequently if the land between the Orange River and Oshikango once belonged to the San, it now belongs to us too as an inheritance.

I recently read a historical account written by Bishop S.V.V. Nambala on the first kings of Uukwambi. He states among other things that this first king had two wives, both of them San. Where do you think their great-grandchildren are today?
This is just a reminder to those who think that they are more indigenous to southern and central Namibia than the rest iof us.

The point is that ancestral land claims purporting to exclude other ethnic groups will not take us anywhere. As the president and other leaders before him like to say: let us unite and build one nation.

In fact some of those who feel more indigenous to these parts than the rest of us are themselves descendant from the San, which makes them our cousins. Why do they want to be different from us? We are all Bushmen.

If we (Aawambo) introduce you to our elders you will notice that some or most of them do not look any different from the ones you see in Tsumkwe or any other Bushmen reserve. We have a legitimate claim to Hoachanas, Lüderitz, Waterberg, Eenhana, Oshikuku, Opuwo, Kamanjab, Swakopmund and the rest of Namibia.

Therefore, anyone who thinks and believes that the people now known as Owambos have less claim to the rest of Namibia is entirely miseducated. This is our land too.

The reason why we do not go around making wild claims of ancestral land is because we know that no one in this land has a better claim to it than the other. We know who we are and do not need validation from anyone.

If the San are our grandmothers then whatever belonged to them, including the land, belongs to their descendants too. The claimants of ancestral land are part of us. 

New Era Reporter
2018-10-12 09:21:10 | 1 years ago

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