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Anuwa? - Part 44

By M'kwanailya wa Mweuta
The day Ombara passed on was when I had my reality check. All along I have been consoling myself that once a journalist, always a journalist. Anuwa the Chief passed on at 16:00 but only heard about it at 20:00 on NBC TV! That is supposed to be unheard off from a journalist for a legend such as the Chief. I guess my tribute is at least not late.

Chief Kuaimo Riruako was arguably Namibia's most colourful politician. He lived a chequered life. He formed part of the men and women who sacrificed their youth to fight for the liberation of Namibia, by petitioning the UN. And later, he followed the footsteps of that towering, legendary figure, Chief Hosea Kutako, by becoming Chief of the Ovaherero people in the 70's.

We also remember his political alignment to the controversial transitional arrangements, which sought to, and did, delay Namibian independence. But above all, we remember him for helping to shape our nation's understanding on the issue of genocide and the just cause for social justice.

Anuwa he almost singlehandedly placed this issue at the top of the nation's agenda. When Chief Riruako first sought to sue the German government and companies who benefited from the colonialisation of the motherland in New York, we dismissed this process and thought it will not amount to anything. But this scepticism and ignorance on our part did not derail him from taking the issue of reparations - right to the heart of the German government. For me, the commemoration of Ohamakari in 2004 was a watershed moment.

For the first time, Chief Riruako captivated the entire nation with the hosting of event that marked the 100th anniversary of the battle of Hamakari, where German imperialist forces under their murderous General von Trotha engaged in battle with the formidable Namibian warriors. It was on the occasion of remembering the gallant efforts of those warriors that the German Minister for International Cooperation tendered a half-hearted apology to the Namibian people who were nearly decimated by the marauding German Schutztruppe.

Later, the cause of reparations reached a crescendo when the Namibian parliament passed a decisive motion on the issue of genocide and above all, calling on the German government to make amends in the form of restitution to the affected communities.

What Chief Riruako also managed to do through this process is to unite the Namibian traditional communities in this quest. No one could have done this. I am sure the recent issue of skulls returning to Namibia, which were brought to the attention of the Namibian government, by Chief Riruako and his group, is a reminder of just how dedicated the man was to ensuring German account for its past sins.

Just like the biblical figure called Moses, who led his people of out of Egypt, but never entered the promised land, Chief Riruako did not see his long-cherished dream realised in his lifetime. It is up to the Joshuas' in his community and beyond to take on the mantle and continue fighting for what is just.

Suva mohange Mbara otjitambi.


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