'Our land is our land'

11 July 2019 | Agriculture

While they will not submit any land claims to what they term a “dubious” ancestral land commission, the Ovaherero and Nama insist that “every inch of the soil” of what used to be Hereroland and Namaqualand, before colonisation, is their ancestral land.

They also emphasised that ancestral land loss should not include those who did not lose land under colonial rule. The Ovaherero and Nama leadership, who also boycotted the country's second national land conference last year, said the commission is nothing but a political gimmick and costly public relations exercise by the Namibian government.

During a media briefing, Ovaherero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro said government is treating the land question as a political football, and has no intention of giving restitution for an inch of stolen land. Rukoro added they have advised their regional traditional chiefs and communities not to appear before the ancestral land commission's public hearings.

“It will be a platform of contradictory and multiple claims by all sorts of people and entities, including dodgy ones who will be and have been set up specifically for the purpose. The end result will be that the powers that be will say, 'You see, I told you so already'. There are so many conflicting and contradictory claims about the same piece of land by various tribes, clans and individuals that this thing is not going to work. The only solution is to preserve the status quo as agreed at the 1991 land conference',” he said.

Rukoro added that for the Nama and Ovaherero communities ancestral land can only be discussed in the context of the genocide committed by Germany.

He added when ancestral land claims become a free licence for any and all who want a piece of land to be included, then the commission is a waste of resources and time.

“Our position is that every inch of the soil of what used to be an independent sovereign state of Hereroland and Namaqualand before colonisation would be our claim for ancestral land, just like any other independent sovereign states would do or are entitled to do under international law,” Rukoro added.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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