Riruako's Legacy Lives On Amongst Ovaherero

06 Jun 2015 13:00pm

By Mulisa Simiyasa

OTJIWARONGO, 06 JUN (NAMPA) – On 02 June 2014, Namibian patriot and leader OvaHerero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako drew his last breath following a long illness.
He was 79.
Riruako's bravery and determination will be remembered for years to come amongst his ardent followers. His charismatic debates in Parliament, coupled with his simplicity in approach towards his subjects, made him a unique leader.
Nearly 200 OvaHerero men and women under the OvaHerero Traditional Authority (OTA) on Tuesday evening gathered at the Red Flag Commando Number 3 at Otjiwarongo to celebrate Riruako's legacy.
Ngurimuje Mieze, one of Riruako's followers, only had the fondest of memories for the departed leader when Nampa spoke to him on Wednesday.
“He is the only special traditional and political leader we have known in this country, and his legacy continues to be felt strongly amongst us,” he said.
For the 58-year-old Urbans Katunavandu Kahengombe, who braved the cold to pay homage to Riruako, the late chief was cut from rare fabric.
The former Otjiwarongo State Hospital assistant radiographer said the only fitting tribute to Riruako's legacy will be achieving unity of purpose amongst the OvaHerero.
The elderly Kahengombe attributed the ongoing OvaHerero-OvaMbanderu-Nama genocide dialogue and demands for reparations from the German government to Riruako's unwavering spirit.
“Our late paramount chief made it possible for descendants of our grandfathers that fled to Botswana during the 1904 and 1908 Herero-German war to return to Namibia, the country of the birth of their forefathers, and today they are largely found in Gam and Tsumkwe area,” he explained.
His fondest memories of the late Riruako, Kahengombe said, are the decorative yet stern speeches Riruako was known for making at traditional gatherings, such as at the annual Ozombuzovindimba commemorations near Otjinene in the Omaheke Region.
Ozombuzovindimba is a heritage site where OvaHerero come together each October to remember the day on which former German colonial regime army commander, Lothar von Trotha ordered his heavily armed troops to exterminate Herero-speaking people.
Some historians say hundreds of OvaHerero and their horses were found dead during the subsequent 1904-1908 war at Ozombuzombindimba after they allegedly consumed water from an earth-dam that was poisoned at Von Trotha's order.
Riruako was also showered with praise here for facilitating construction work on the OvaHerero Red Flag Commando at Okahandja.
According to Kahengombe, Riruako was as great a leader as other late OvaHerero Chiefs such as Samuel Maharero, Hosea Kutako and Clemens Kapuuo.
“This does not mean I doubt the capabilities of our newly installed Paramount Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro,” he pointed out quickly.
Kahengombe motivated his confidence in Ruroko, saying he has already proven to be the rightful successor for Riruako after he apparently initiated a burial service for the late Archbishop of Oruuano Church in Namibia, Assaria Kamburona at the sacred OvaHerero burial site at Okahandja towards the end of 2014.
Meanwhile, several OvaHerero Namibians at the occasion that marked the commemoration of the chief’s legacy thanked former President Hifikepunye Pohamba for according Riruako a State funeral in June 2014.
Kahengombe was one of those who praised Pohamba, saying he was seen kneeling down to greet the late chief’s widow; Enesia Kozondano Riruako at the couple’s home in Katutura in the capital shortly before the actual burial.
“I saw him kneel and greet Kozondano Riruako that day. I was surprised to see a President doing that. This convinced me that Pohamba is a gentle African man,” he said.
Kahengombe is a supporter of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA), and livestock farmer of good standing in the Otjozondjupa Region’s Kalkfeld area.