Govt under fire for 'liberation struggle favouritism'

Some communities feel government only commemorates events related to the liberation struggle led by Swapo.

29 July 2020 | History

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



A report by the parliamentary standing committee on constitutional and legal affairs has revealed that some communities feel government only commemorates events related to the liberation struggle led by Swapo, such as Cassinga Day and Heroes' Day, while the same honour is not afforded those who perished in the 1904-08 Nama and Ovaherero genocide.

“While all occasions are both of national and historical importance, some communities felt that the genocide, which saw hundreds of thousands of Namibians being killed, raped, tortured and robbed of their land, small livestock, cattle and wealth by the Germans, does not receive comparatively high-profile recognition on a consistent basis,” the report said. The parliamentary committee has proposed 28 May as Genocide Remembrance Day. However, Namibians appear to be divided on which day the genocide should be commemorated, with the Ovambanderu/Ovaherero and Nama Council for Dialogue pushing for either 23 April or 2 October.



Divided opinions

On 2 October 1904, German imperial general Lothar von Trotha declared genocide against the Ovaherero people, and extended this termination order to the Nama people on 23 April 1905.

While the rest of the country leans towards 28 May, the Oshikoto, Ohangwena and Oshana regions suggested Cassinga Day or Heroes' Day to commemorate the genocide. According to the report, the Office of the Prime Minister strongly cautioned against comparing tragic episodes in the history of Namibia.

However, it has suggested that the committee and parliament may consider combining the proposed day with an existing public holiday, for example Human Rights Day.



Favouritism

The report pointed out that communities in //Karas have accused government of favouritism, saying it pays more attention to the commemoration of Cassinga Day and Heroes' day, while ignoring the genocide.

Consultations on the matter have been characterised by animosity, anger and accusations, it said. “The emotionally charged consultation in Windhoek was marred by verbal altercations and utterances by some members of the public. The whole consultation was simply characterised by mayhem, to say the least. This resulted in some supporting and some against the motion,” the report stated. It added that communities in Zambezi proposed that research be extended in order to eradicate the sentiment that only certain groups were affected by the genocide. “The policy framework on human remains must be looked into for clear guidance on how to deal with skeletons and other body parts that may be discovered. They proposed memorials, festivals and respectable monuments as forms of remembrance.”

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