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Parties divided over Genocide Remembrance Day

Written by on May 16, 2024

A faction of the descendants of the 1904-1908 Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Nama genocide plan to host a genocide memorial event in Windhoek from 26 to 28 May.

This is despite disagreements surrounding the proposed date of the commemoration.

In 2016, South West Africa National Union president Usutuaije Maamberua tabled the motion for a Genocide Remembrance Day to be introduced in parliament.

He proposed that 28 May be declared as Genocide Remembrance Day, as it was on this day 116 years ago that the commander of the colonial German Schutztruppe ordered the formal closure of all Ovaherero and Nama concentration camps in then-German South West Africa.

A series of events are lined up for the three-day commemoration event, which includes a march from the UN Plaza to the Independence Memorial Museum.

Organising committee member Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro told The Namibian yesterday that while the descendants are waiting for the government to decide on the proposed day, there should be a remembrance of what took place.

“We need to teach our children about this political epoch in the country’s political history,” he said.

Matundu-Tjiparuro suggested the history of the Herero and the Nama resistance to German rule should be taught in schools.

Meanwhile, Ovaherero Traditional Authority chief Mutjinde Katjiua said his faction will not attend as it does not agree that 28 May is the date the genocide should be commemorated.

“There are those of us who believe the impact of the genocide went beyond 28 May 1908,” he said.

The extermination order to wipe the Ovaherero people from the face of the earth was given on 2 October 1904, he said.
It is for this reason that some Ovaherero people have been commemorating 2 October as Genocide Remembrance Day annually for 20 years, he added.

Katjiua said it does not necessarily mean the day should be a public holiday, but rather observed nationally.

“Look, we commemorate other days as public holidays like Cassinga Day, but who goes to those events? A lot of people go to their farms instead,” he said.

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) human rights command leader Joyce Muzengua said the LPM will also not attend the commemoration for similar reasons.

“People died in large numbers. LPM is for 2 October,” she said.

She said the LPM respects Maamberua and appreciates his effort, but they differ on the proposed date.

Swanu secretary general Wendy Christian confirmed the party’s attendance on 28 May.

“Remember, it was our former president who tabled the motion in parliament in 2016, we will definitely attend any day that everyone else will agree on,” she said.

“Swanu supports any kind of remembrance. The Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Nama lost their lives during that period,” she said.

President Nangolo Mbumba has said nobody would object to the proposal that 28 May be commemorated as Genocide Remembrance Day in Namibia, if that is the common position of all descendants.

Last month, Mbumba had a meeting with members of the Okandjoze Chiefs Assembly at State House, where they requested his intervention in the gazetting of the passed motion from parliament to officially promulgate 28 May as Genocide Remembrance Day.

Mbumba welcomed the idea, saying he fully supports the idea and sees no reason why Namibia as a whole, and parliament, in particular, would not approve the proposed day.

The post Parties divided over Genocide Remembrance Day appeared first on The Namibian.

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