Surviving the Namibian genocide
24 May 2013 | Art and Entertainment
Book Name: Mama Namibia
Author: Mari Serebrov
Publisher: Wordweaver Publishing
MAMA Namibia is an emotional account of the Herero/Nama genocide. Set in 1904 when Germany has claimed all of South West Africa, it's a compelling story of perseverance, suffering, struggle, pain and anguish. Surviving on her own in the desert, 12-year-old Jahora searches for her family while hiding from the German soldiers. The brave Herero people would rather fight than give up their homes. This led to General Lothar von Trotha declaring that all Hereros should be forced into the Omaheke region to die.
This heartfelt account of Jahora's suffering also gives recognition to the many who helped the Herero and Nama people during one of the darkest periods in Namibian history. She finds hope in an act of kindness by a Jew serving in the German army.
Few understand the severity of the Herero/Nama genocide. This book contrasts that brutality by painting beautiful pictures of life before the war, when they enjoyed simple things like sitting around Omuriro omurangere, also known as the holy fire. But more than that, this refreshing novel also gives recognition to teachings of respect for elders that is rooted in the way early Herero people lived. A little things like waiting for her father to drink milk first is just one of many moral values that is rooted in a beautiful culture that was sadly misconstrued as barbaric by the Germans.
The true extent of the Herero bravery also comes to light. While everyone knows about the bravery of the Herero people in terms of fighting, there is little information about their determination to teach Herero children the Herero tradition and culture in a time when missionaries were determined to teach them other traditions.
The book also sheds light on just how the Germans misunderstood our people. On page 12 she writes; Tate is an Omundu Uonduko, a healer, he brings peace to the Herero families but German missionaries say Tate is an evil man because he talks to the ancestors. That bad spirits make him trick the Herero people.
One particular line was exceedingly profound. After Jahora was rescued she writes: Yesterday, I would have been scared. Now, I am too tired and I have too much pain to be afraid. This line helped me understand just exactly how anger was nurtured in the hearts of my forefathers, so much so that they were willing to fight the man with the gun with just a stone most of the time. Because they were tired, and in pain, there was just no time for fear anymore.
This is a book of the love of family, the desire to live, resilience and getting a helping hand along the way. A must read not only for those who want to know more about the history of the Herero people, but for everyone who loves a good novel.