'Daan Viljoen is ours'

From the pressure from the Namas and Ovaherero, and then the colonial settlers, |Khomanîn say they have lost all their land.

14 August 2019 | Agriculture

An ancestral land claim submission for the |Khomanîn traditional communities by Karl Mudani ||Aribeb lays claim to the Daan Viljoen settlement and the city of Windhoek and wants compensation for the loss of these lands.

It also criticised the continued use of the name 'Daan Viljoen' in reference to the game park created on |Khomanîn ancestral land, claiming that it is an insult of the highest order to their dignity and heritage.

“The park is named after the then South African colonial administrator-general who presided over the forced removal of the !Ao||aexas |Khomanî community to Sori Soris. This forced removal arguably counts amongst most inhumane and most atrocious abuses committed by colonial government on Namibia's indigenous communities but does not enjoy the prominence as the genocide and the Old Location forced removals enjoy.”

Aribeb also points out that the lack of communal land in the Khomas Region largely contributes to the landlessness of the |Khomanîn traditional communities, who unlike most Namibian communities have no place to call home.

“Pockets of post-independence group resettlement efforts by the government are recognised. However, these schemes have been patchy, far and in between, and have not even begun to address the land hunger of the |Khomanîn.

“Apart from the land hunger, these group resettlement schemes are unable to address the need for a sense of place, sense of belonging and the dignity that come with these. The |Khomanîn have been denied these virtues, which most indigenous Namibian communities enjoy, by the historical loss of all of their ancestral land,” he states.

The submission states that the |Khomanîn traditional communities' home range stretches from the south bank of the Swakop River, past the eastern slopes of the Eros Mountains in the vicinity of the present-day Midgard, then westwards almost up to Otjimbingwe and south for hundreds of kilometres until almost directly west of Rehoboth (|Anhes).

“Some accounts actually place Rehoboth within |Khomani territory but this conflicts with the claim by |Gowanî Damara before turning east, enclosing the !Aomites and !Naoaspoort both settlements south of Windhoek, and further stretches as far as Seeis.

“It would also encompass the landscapes around the present-day Hosea Kutako International Airport and reconnect with the eastern slopes of Eros Mountains with the starting point in the Midgard vicinity,” said ||Aribeb.

He continued to say that a combination of Ovaherero and Nama territorial pressure and the subsequent colonial land grabs by European settlers effectively reduced the |Khomanîn to a state of destitution and landlessness.

According to him this displacement led to a vast majority of the members of the |Khomanîn traditional community being reduced to perpetual farm labourers on freehold farms formed on what once were their ancestral lands.

He also said that these people, for generations, have been completely left to the whims of freehold farm owners, often exposed to unfair labour practices, human rights abuses of epic proportions and evictions when they reach retirement age.

“A significant number of them are said to have flocked to and settled in urban centres, especially in the famous Windhoek Old Location and similar old location at Kai||khaes (Okahandja) while some found refuge at various mission stations. Many elders, but mostly descendants, continue to live in Katutura in trying living conditions. Some were forcibly moved to 'Damaraland', in other words the communal areas of Okombahe and Sori Soris, Erongo and Kunene Regions, respectively,” he said.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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