An open letter to the Municipality of Windhoek

05 July 2019 | Opinion

By Festus U. Muundjua



I am writing to respond and to correct the wrong information fed to the New Era of Friday 3 May 2019 by Mr. Hendrich Amutenya under the heading, “Campaign to rename Katutura”.

I do not hold the municipality responsible for this ill-conceived campaign, but I am addressing my concerns to it as the constitutional authority vested with the power to deal with such issues as street naming, designating names to new, as well as to rename already existing suburbs of Windhoek and to which the envisaged campaign to change the name Katutura might be referred.

The name “Katutura” represents a portion of a particular struggle of the black residents of the “Old Location” of Windhoek, and at a given point in time (1959).

It was a part and parcel of the larger struggle against apartheid colonialism and a resistance to oppression of that system.

Therefore, it must be understood in the context of the dynamics of the time and not to be replaced by something that has no history or that does not relate to what had actually transpired.

There are people who were there today who can explain the origin of the name 'Katutura' as part of a history of a people rather than the likes of Hendrich Amutenya.

I happened to be around and participated in the Swanu executive meeting that evening at the house of the late acting- president of Swanu, Mr. Uatja Kaukuetu, when we agreed on the name. I am not boasting as if I am the only survivor of that time who can tell the story. I recall that Mr. Koujo Keimuine and Mr. Albert Katirori Katjiuongua (still with bandages around his ankle from the shooting and his two crutches) were in that meeting and are still alive to have their version.

The name issue was brought to the Chief Hosea Kutako Chief Council by Mr. Hijamakura Mungunda, a close relative of the chief and where the latter was staying at the time.

This Mungunda was an advisory member of the Black Section of the Windhoek Municipality and tipped the Chief Council off that the boers were looking for a name for the “New Location”, as it was being referred to before it got the name that it is today, and Chief Kutako sent a delegation of four men to consult with Swanu on a common name.

They were Katjikuru Theofelus Katjiuongua, Aaron Kapere, Franz Tjiueza and Nicklas Kahengava.

After they had explained the purpose of their coming to the meeting, Mr. Uatja Kaukuetu responded spontaneously – rhetorically or sarcastically, – and said, “Why shouldn't we call it “Katutura”?

This was in reference to a speech of Chief Kutako, read on his behalf by someone, Mr. Vitore, on the day when we were burying those shot by the white police and soldiers on 10 December 1959 in the Old Location Cemetery.

They were shot for demonstrating against the forceful relocation to the “Nuwe Lokasie” (New Location). These white police and soldiers were commanded by Mr. Jaap Snyman and General Lombard respectively.

It was that evening when the Herero lady Kakurukaze Mungunda was shot dead.

The speech of Chief Kutako was narrating how black people have been moved around from one ancestral land to another to give way for the whites from the German to the boers; moved from Omitara to Otumbo, to various concentration camps during the 1904 – 1908 Genocide, to the newly created “reserves” of Aminuis, Epukiro, from Okahandja to Ovitoto, to Okakarara, Omatjete, Otjituuo, “Welwitshia”, later to be renamed Khorixas, Soresores, Okombahe, just to name but a few.

Why not Katutura?

The Kutako speech stated that the first “black township” of Windhoek was where the present “Ludwigsdorp” is and from where the black residents were moved to “Oorkant” or, in English, beyond the Gamamms River.

After the “Old Location”, again we had to move to the New Location northward, and at the burial site where the Chief Kutako speech was read, it was to all these removals that Kutako was saying (in wonder, not really as a question) in the last words of his speech: “Hapo ovandu ovazorondu katutura”, meaning, “Really, don't we black people settle?”

The meaning of the one word KA T U T U R A is “we don't settle.”

He wasn't having in mind to name the new township.

It was only Mr. Kaukuetu who remembered that word and suggested, whether seriously or as a jest, to be the name for the new township that is today known as KATUTURA.

If we are serious about rewriting the history of our struggle for our freedom and independence, Mr. Hendrich Amutenya, we shouldn't start with de-writing it and, worst still, replacing it with a word that will in all probability have no meaning in any of the languages of the world like your “Ubuntura”.

The end word “-tura” in Otjiherero is a command word, meaning: settle, as if to command someone to settle or to reside and that has nothing to do with 'Ubuntu' and, mind you, if you take away the letters tu from the word Ubuntu to form the word tura, then Ubuntu will be Ubun, and that in turn will no longer be the philosophy of Ubuntu as is known, especially in South Africa where it was developed.

I am utterly flabbergasted by Mr. Amutenya calling “our own Namibian people to show pride and ownership of Katutura which has blossomed into a beautiful township that reflects the spirit of community and togetherness”.

Katutura was never meant to be 'beautiful' and its architectural apartheid design was never meant to promote a 'spirit of community' with 'togetherness' with its Herero Section, Nama Section, Damara Section and Ovambo Section all of which are nothing but Urban Bantustanisation-alas- Verwoerd style.

I would like to humbly implore the men and women of the Windhoek Municipality who have the constitutional and statutory powers to name streets and suburbs NOT to entertain the idea being advocated by Mr. Hendrich Amutenya, because the name Katutura is an embodiment of a people's history, and is a history of people whose blood watered our freedom.

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