UITKOMS - Adored retired veteran politician Dr Libertina Amathila, who last held the portfolio of Deputy Prime Minister, came under a barrage of misplaced criticism when she vigorously spearheaded a campaign to have the marginalized San community resettled at Farm Uitkoms.
As we speak, the campaign however, proved worthwhile as the resettled San community is thriving in commercial farming.
The commercial farm, holed up approximately 160-kilometers north-east of Okahandja, in the Steinhausen District, Okorukambe Constituency, Omaheke Region, has been at the centre of the storm as the predominantly Ovaherero speaking communal farmers residing in close proximity felt short-changed.
The disgruntled traditional cattle breeders argued that the allocation of such a large piece of fertile land to “uncivilized” San descendants would be a self-inflicted waste of resourceful prime land as the chosen beneficiaries would be ostensibly in dire short supply of the required expertise in the area of basic farming.
However, the Ministry of Land Reforms stood its ground putting its body on the line bussing in just over 300 previously displaced San community under the South African Apartheid regime to finally have a place they could happily call their own.
Meanwhile, the resettled San population has since grown to almost more than double the size of the first intakes.
The new settlers were not just dumped there to enjoy their place in the sun, the Namibian government put their shoulder to the wheel - taking the would-be farmers through the ropes about the modern techniques in commercial farming.
Not only were the San given a fairly sizable number of livestock to kick start their new escapades, the farmers, most of them former general laborers on white owned farms – had little difficulty, if any, mastering the art of animal husbandry.
Like in any other settlements, the San community at Uitkoms did not abandon their traditional values and customs, that of being ushered by a headman. August Katae, who has great difficulties in recalling his real age, is the designated Sheriff of Uitkoms.
“All I know is that I’m well over sixty, surely not seventy yet but somewhere there between 60 and 70,” responded Katae in fluent Afrikaans.
The immaculately dressed Sheriff oversees a community of approximately 700 inhabitants whose primary livelihood depends mainly on cattle farming.
Uitkoms stables more than 1000 heads of well-bred cattle. “We also do a lot grass cutting with a tractor, donated by government which we in turn sell in bulk to communal farmers.
“I must admit the demand is quite high but our community here is growing rapidly, thus obliging us to look at other means to supplement our income.
“We have vast open pieces of land at our disposal about seven thousand hectares and want to plough and grow a variety of food supply such as vegetables etc but our efforts are being hum-strung by the shortage of sufficient water supply.
It’s uncommon to find the marginalized San people owning property or livestock in communal areas but government’s prompt intervention to level the playing field is certainly bearing fruits.
New Era crew has established that there are well to do farmers at Farm Uitkoms who own up to one hundred head of cattle apiece – certainly no mean feat for people whose involvement in farming was restricted to the role of shepherds or cattle herders.
Apart from cattle breeding – Farm Uitkoms has a learning institution for its fast growing inhabitants. Uitkoms Primary School offers classes from Grade one to seven and is also fitted with recreational facilities in the shape of a gravel football and netball fields.
The resettlement farm also boasts a health clinic centre with a fulltime nurse placed on alert for 24-hours and a makeshift mobile church.