Damara ancestral land

28 September 2018 | Politics

A discussion paper for the country's second national land conference argues the notion that Damara ancestry is confined to areas around Khorixas, Uis, Okombahe and Sesfontein is flawed and a creation of the South African colonial administration.

The paper compiled by Karl Mudani ||Aribeb says the Damara, along with the San, lived in most of present-day central Namibia, before the arrival of the Bantu, Nama and Europeans.

||Aribeb emphasised the paper is his own initiative, as an independent professional.

He claims the Damara now find themselves on the fringes of Namibia after being forced off their land in the Khomas Region by the Nama and Ovaherero. In fact, according to him, this is exactly where the marginalisation of the Damara began.

||Aribeb said because of their suppression by the Nama and Ovaherero, the Damara were unable to stake out, lay claim or defend any piece of the land as exclusively theirs. In the same vein, he pointed out that colonial land dispossession had two game-changing consequences, which firstly resulted in the loss of Damara, Nama and Ovaherero ancestral land. Secondly, the expropriation of all land by the German administration brought about the notion of private land ownership, which completely replaced the indigenous communal land use system.

“This effectively marked the demise of pre-colonial flexible resources-use systems characterised by seasonal movement and migrations. Lastly, the affected indigenous communities become de facto trespassers on their own land virtually overnight,” he said.

||Aribeb said despite the academic and scientific debates about the origin of the Damara, Namibia is the only home they have always known.

“It is a fact of Namibian history that the Damara lived through a period of extreme torture at the hands of the Nama and Ovaherero, virtually until the advent of the German colonial administration.

The German administration progressively put an effective end to intertribal wars and atrocities, done through peace treaties, protection treaties and harsh military action,” he said.



JEMIMA BEUKES

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