Why Namibians want Land
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Why Do Namibians Want Land?
By Wezi Tjaronda
Tuesday, 4th November 2008
WNDHOEK – A book, “This Land is My Land” is the latest addition to the list of books that have been published on land reform in Namibia. In the book that was launched last week, author Erika von Wietersheim aimed at finding out why land reform is an explosive and emotional issue, what the land hunger is all about and also to gauge whether indeed black and white farmers have different attitudes towards land. It captures views and experiences of black and white landowners, the landless and those that hunger for land, farm workers, government officials and experts in the agriculture sector.
Prime Minister Nahas Angula said the book provides a starting point for an in-depth probe on how to make the land redistribution programmes successful to individuals and for the growth of the economy. Angula noted that the book had managed to capture the sentiments that are associated with the land question because dispossessing someone of land was the greatest violation of man’s basic and fundamental rights. “Taking land from someone is like pulling a rag on which someone is standing or stripping them naked,” said Angula on Thursday at an event marking the launch of the book.
He said land was not only a productive asset and a heritage but also a residence, a burial place, a culture and tradition. “In short, land is central to man’s existence,” he added. Von Wietersheim said when she set out to write the book, she attempted to find out why people really want land.
What she found out was that the policies of land reform do not take into account the emotions of the people about land. While some people wanted land for the injustices of the past to be addressed, land reform did not seem to address this yearning. “It (land reform) is responding to the wrong needs. There is a hunger for land, and hunger to share in the resource yet it is not the only resource,” she added.
Although during interviews she found that land remains the essence of livelihood for many, land without the knowledge, resources and skills would not make anyone rich. “Having land is like having a home. Landlessness results in homelessness. People want land for a secure home and agriculture is not always the motivation for having land,” she said.
Yet for commercial farmers, land is a productive resource from which food and fibre have to be produced, according to former Namibian Agriculture Union president Raimar von Hase. Farm Workers Union Secretary General Alfred Angula said land was an emotional issue because people were killed because of land. He said although the focus was on agriculture, it was about the resource that people remained poor.
“You can not eradicate poverty if you don’t have resources. Money goes and land remains,” he said. Angula, who said everyone should share in Namibia’s resources including land on a balanced basis, added that reconciliation should go beyond politics and be extended to the economy as well. “Commercial farmers should say I am prepared to share my land and educate people, ” he added.
However, the Prime Minister felt that labour tenants of all the groups need special consideration because they have no place to call home. “This one group has always been forgotten and should be the starting point,” he said, adding that while some asked to be resettled and others such as affirmative action farmers wanted to become land barons, labour tenants were not addressed even though Namibia believes in social justice. The book This Land is My Land, he said, takes care of the vocals while the silent ones – tenants – are left to remain silent
• Some of the questions about land:
– Why should people cross oceans to come and look for land in Africa? – Prime Minister Nahas Angula
– Why should farmers graze their livestock far away when there is land occupied by people that are not Namibian? – Andreas Amushila, Affirmative Action Farmer
– Can such a precious resource (land) be owned? – Reimer Thiesen, Commercial farmer
– Who owns the land and why do they own it today? – Alfred Angula, Secretary General, Namibia Farm Worker’s Union
– Is it OK to keep emotions high as we try and resolve the land issue? – Vehaka Tjimune
http://www.newera. com.na/page. php?id=10104
Reparation Claim Includes Ancestral Land
By Staff Reporter
Tuesday, 4th November 2008
WINDHOEK – The claim for reparation also includes the return of the land that was forcefully taken away from their ancestors, says Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Kuaima Riruako.
Riruako on Sunday addressed the 104th commemoration of the issuing of the Extermination Order against the Ovaherero by General Lothar von Trotha, the then commander of Imperial Germany’s forces in Namibia during the 1904-1908 wars of resistance. The commemoration is held at the very place where the extermination order was issued on the 2nd of October in 1904 at a place known as Ozombu Zovindimba in the Otjinene constituency in the Omaheke communal area.
It has become an annual pilgrim since 2004 when the movement seeking reparation against the German Federal Government for the killing of the Namibian people, their displacement and the confiscation of their property, including land and cattle, celebrated the centenary of the near annihilation of Namibians on the order of Imperial Germany.
However, the pilgrimage to Ozombu Zovindimba takes place at the end of October and not the beginning, 2 October, as during the beginning of October each year, the Ovaherero also commemorate the White Flag Day in Omaruru. Thus, although the 2nd October is usually observed, the pilgrim to Ozombu Zovindimba is held end of October or beginning November to avoid a clash with the White Flag Day.
The order was issued from a mountain heap that also served as a military observation post for the German forces at a place that came to be known as Ozombu Zovindimba, meaning pests’ fountains, as hundreds of Ovaherero fleeing the German Imperial forces’ onslaught died when they drank water which was poisoned by the German forces.
Riruako said one of the milestones of the commemorative events of the genocide since 2004 is the fact that the history of the resistance war of the Namibian people is now not only written in history books, but more than at any other time, it is a history that is now much talked about and has become common knowledge.
Riruako said his people need to thank no one else but themselves that this history is today common knowledge. They took the initiative in 2003 to in 2004 mark the centenary anniversary of their genocide as per von Trotha’s 2004 extermination order.
As much as they have reached this milestone, Riruako said they still have unfinished business with especially the Federal Government of Germany. This unfinished business is the reparation of the Namibian people for the atrocities committed against them during the 1904-1908 wars of resistance.
This is especially in view of the Ozombu Zovindimba Declaration when the Ovaherero issued a declaration in 2004, which came to be known as the Ozombu Zovindimba Declaration to relentlessly pursue their reparation claim against Germany.
Chief Riruako reminded his people of this declaration and appealed to them that the declaration should serve as a constant reminder of their pledge and commitment to the reparation claim. “The road ahead is not without temptations and challenges. Therefore, we cannot afford to get tired and surrender. Not while we have made a pledge that we have not fulfilled. This pledge is not only to our ancestors but also to us. Most of all to our children,” he said.
Although their cause for reparation has many enemies and detractors, Riruako said the Ovaherero themselves were the worst enemies of their own cause because of “petty squabbles and divisions” among them. He said these have made unity in action and in purpose difficult. Despite this, he thanked those who are still soldiering on with the cause for not only keeping the reparation train on track but also in the right direction although the speed is not as fast as they would want it to be. He said reaching the reparation destination required the efforts of all people who are affected by Germany’s colonial excesses. “It takes all of us to combine our resources, mental, material and otherwise to reach the promised land of our ancestors. Our quest for the reparation of our people is not an individual issue or an individual struggle. It is also not for a single community,” he emphasized.
Neither, Riruako added, does any single member of parliament or politician own this cause but every Namibian has a responsibility for this mandate bequeathed by the ancestors when they were killed by the German Imperial forces. He said the main aim of gathering at Ozombu Zovindimba was not only to remember what happened but to rededicate to the cause of reparation. With the German Parliament having rejected a motion on genocide earlier this year, there is all the more a need not only to take the Ozombu Zovindimba Declaration seriously but to also institute new strategies in the quest for reparation.