Ancestors must be turning in their graves

31 August 2017 | Opinion

For many years now the Ovaherero community have been embroiled in a bitter and sometimes nasty squabbling with regard to the annual commemoration of the Red Flag. Popularly known as Otjiserandu, the event is a gathering of the Herero people to remember and honour their departed chiefs. This year was no different as rival groups supporting Ovaherero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro and OtjikaTjamuaha Royal House under the leadership of Chief Tjinaani Maharero squared off in a show signifying there is still no love lost between the two adversaries. The two factions disagree over where the commemoration should take place: plot number 1755 belonging to the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) or plot number 1756 leased to the Red Flag Regiment by the Okahandja municipality. In fact the OTA had applied in 2010 to buy the plot for almost N$300 000 to build its headquarters, but the Maharero Royal House objected to the sale, leading to a drawn-out battle, which also implicated urban and rural development minister Sophia Shaningwa. In their objections, the Maharero Royal House, which is recognised by government, has argued that the site of the holy fire is important to all Ovaherero, and should not be sold to one clan. The infighting among the Ovaherero has reached boiling point and something needs to be done to avoid further escalation. Their peace-loving subjects are pretty much tired of disagreements and are praying for the fierce rivalry to end and for the feuding chiefs to smoke the peace pipe and reunite in the best interests of their community. This unnecessary conflict has created so much distress among the Ovaherero and it is regretful that the elders are the ones fuelling division and not leading by example. We can no longer allow anarchy and chaos to reign while the authorities watch on with folded arms. If government really cherishes the enormous role chiefs play in the development agenda of the country, then our leaders ought to intervene and find a lasting solution to this highly explosive standoff.

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