20 Jul 2014 18:30pm
By Charles Tjatindi
TSAU, 20 JULY (NAMPA) - Members of the OvaHerero and OvaMbanderu communities in Namibia and Botswana converged on Tsau for the annual commemorations to pay homage to their fallen ancestors.
Tsau is a tiny village located some 145km west of Maun in Botswana's Ngamiland district.
The commemorations were, however, marked by a dismal attendance, as many people who frequent the event on an annual basis, opted not to make the journey to Botswana this time around.
Many of the expected traditional leaders from Namibia and South Africa were also absent from the event, as well as hordes of OtjiHerero-speaking Batswana from neighbouring villages and towns.
Justice Muinjo, a spokesperson for the local organising committee of the commemoration activities at Tsau, admitted to Nampa that this year's attendance figures were at its lowest.
It is really a disappointing turn-out for the commemorations this year. When one compares the number of people here - which could be less than 300 people - to those figures of previous years, you will see that people have stayed away in (large) numbers from the event, he said.
The weekend commemorations were the first gathering of the OvaHerero and OvaMbanderu after the death of OvaHerero Paramount Chief, Kuaima Riruako on 02 June this year after a long illness.
The glaring divide between the OtjikaTjamuaha Royal House and the OvaHerero Traditional Authority, which had been under Riruako's leadership, is said to be a contributing factor to the mass stay-away of the community from the event.
Riruako had been a popular figure at the Tsau commemorations since its inception in 2000.
The feeling at Tsau is that those who were under his leadership decided to stay away from the annual event.
Chief Tjinaani Maharero of the Maharero Traditional Authority, which falls under the OtjikaTjamuaha Royal House, and a number of his subjects, however, attended the event.
The community visited the grave sites of their fallen ancestors on Sunday, and pleaded from them for prosperity.
The commemorations are held in honour of late OvaHerero leader, Wilhelm Maharero who is buried at Tsau.
Wilhelm is an elder brother to Samuel Maharero, who is credited with having led an exodus of fleeing OvaHerero people from Namibia into Botswana in the aftermath of the OvaHerero Genocide of 1904 to 1908.
Samuel also perished there in the 1800s, but his remains were repatriated to Namibia in 1923, and are now buried at the Okahandja Heroes and Heroines Cemetery.