OvaHerero/Nama leaders disappointed to have been excluded

05 Mar 2014 16:50pm
WINDHOEK, 05 MAR (NAMPA) - OvaHerero, OvaMbanderu and Nama traditional leaders have expressed their anger and displeasure with the manner in which the Namibian and German governments have gone about to repatriate the skulls of Namibians who perished during the 1904-1908 genocide.
Fourteen of the 35 skulls that were kept at the University of Freiburg in south-west Germany were handed over to the Namibian government delegation on Tuesday. The remaining 21 skulls are to be collected in Berlin before the group heads back home on Friday.
Speaking at a media conference in the capital on Wednesday, the Chairperson of the Ovaherero Genocide Committee Utjiua Muinjangue said OvaHerero, OvaMbanderu and Nama traditional leaders are not happy that they were excluded from the whole process.
She told the members of the three tribes in Namibia not to have anything to do with the return of the skulls, meaning they should not participate in the skulls arrival ceremony or conduct any traditional rites and ceremonies as they did in the past.
“It is not about who went to fetch the skulls, but the process. They could have involved us in the planning and the way how this whole process was handled. We are Africans and we believe in our culture and rituals. This is our culture which is in our Constitution,” she said.
According to Muinjangue, the remains of those heroes and heroines have been robbed of the befitting dignity, respect as well as requisite traditional rituals which they deserve.
She said such rituals were supposed to have been conducted throughout the process of repatriating the remains.
The Namibian delegation to Germany was led by the Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture, Jerry Ekandjo and it included the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Traditional Leaders in Namibia, Chief Immanuel /Gaseb; Esther Moombolah-//Goagoses, the Head of the National Museum of Namibia; Nzila Mubusisi, a heritage officer of the National Museum of Namibia; Phillip Tjerije, the Special Advisor on Traditional Matters to the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development; and Natangwe Asino, the personal assistant to the Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture.
Turning to the issue of the genocide and reparation demand, Muinjangue told the media conference that these remain priority issues which must be discussed urgently.
“The whole issue of genocide and reparation is about our own people who were brutalised. It is about us, the direct descendants of those people, and it can therefore not be done without our involvement,” she said.
The repatriation of Herero and Nama skulls from German universities and research centres follows a protracted battle by members of the OvaHerero/OvaMbanderu and Nama people to force German government authorities to release the skulls and skeletons.
It is believed that the skulls were transported to Germany sometime during the 1904-1908 genocide to be used in purported “research” to prove that white people were superior to black people.
The Namibian Government is organising a ceremony at Parliament Gardens in the capital on Friday to receive the skulls officially.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba is expected to accord the remains of these fallen Namibian nationals a fitting welcome home, and the public will have an opportunity to view the remains and perform all the traditional and religious rituals required.