San 'are slaves'

21 August 2019 | Local News

Village secretary of the Onamatanga community Mpepo Festus says they are being marginalised by the previously disadvantaged, who are representing the San on decision-making bodies at traditional authority level.

He said they have now become the slaves of the previously disadvantaged, who are employing them at their cattle posts.

Festus, who was not given an opportunity to address President Hage Geingob during a town hall meeting at Outapi last week, said it is high time that marginalised communities have representatives in traditional authorities, especially in the northern regions. He said they have seen their natural resources being given away by traditional authorities, but they do not have any power, because there are no traditional councillors from their communities.

“Resources such as land and forests are managed by traditional authorities. They have the power to allocate land to individuals.

“The majority of marginalised communities in the northern regions used to reside in bushy areas, but over the years we have seen our land being given away and fenced off; our forests are being deforested by groups of previously disadvantaged people. All this is happening with the permission of traditional authorities,” Festus said.

“Communities of marginalised people are large, but they have no representatives in traditional authority governance structures, as councillors.

“There is nobody to represent their interests, because previously disadvantaged groups representing them are only concerned about their own needs. We need our own people in traditional authority governance structures to represent our needs and interests.”

Festus said they have village heads with no decision-making powers.

He said people came into their communities, took their land and started to control them.

“We had the land; these people came, fenced off our land and established their cattle posts and we are now forced to depend on them. They employ us or our children as cattle herders or house caretakers. Schools in our communities only end at primary level, because that is the dropping out level before they become cattle herders or house caretakers. We also had forests; they have been deforested by these same people cutting down the trees.

“They are being allocated land by the traditional authorities and this has impacted our daily living situation. Our village heads have no objections, because the land belongs to the authorities governing the areas,” Festus said. According to him, this is not only happening in Omusati, but in all the northern regions were marginalised communities live.

“These issues are all over the northern regions. We raised them during the second land conference in October last year, but nothing happened; until now we have people coming to take our land. I have visited other marginalised communities and they are having similar complaints.”

Festus said he is disappointed after he was delegated by Onamatanga residents to talk at the town hall meeting, but was not given an opportunity.

He said he was registered at the governor's office to speak.

“Apparently the time was up.”

Many marginalised communities live in isolation. They prefer to live in bushy areas, because they depend on natural resources for their survival.


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