New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Katjirua Sees 2013 As Year of Peace and Reconciliation

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THIS is the year of peace and reconciliation, says the Acting Chief of the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority (OTA), Gottlob Katjirua, or rather he hopes this will the case. He wished so on Wednesday on the occasion of the 5th remembrance of the death of Ovambanderu Paramount Chief, Munjuku II Nguvauva.

Desirous of this on this auspicious but sad occasion, one cannot doubt that indeed the traditional leader is wishing this in a true spirit of peace and reconciliation, especially for his cultural group the Ovambanderu.

The death of the late Munjuku II in January 2008 exacerbated disunity within this traditional community that was already at war with itself because of disagreements among its members over its governance document that has come to be generally referred to as its constitution.

The document even saw some sequels in the Namibian courts before it was eventually declared to have been duly adopted by the Ovambanderu community, and thus as a valid governance framework for the community.

However, despite the court's verdict to this effect, the community has been at cross purposes with self with different members claiming legitimacy to the throne to succeed the late Munjuku 11.

To date this disagreement has as yet to find amicable closure. Various efforts in this regard, the community's own, the courts' and even the government's have since gone wanting in terms of a lasting solution.

It is thus no wonder that Katjirua on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of his late leader, is craving for peace and reconciliation, a commodity that has been becoming rarer over the years, and ever elusive since the constitutional debacle, and subsequently since the departure of Paramount Munjuku 11 in 2008.

And there's is no doubting the genuineness of Chief Katjirua in craving for peace and reconciliation. Throughout the community's internecine wars all these years, which date back to 2005 with the constitutional debacle, many a times Katjirua has tried to broker peace and reconciliation among his warring community.

He has been and has always tried to be on record that his community in its altercations with itself, should always leave space for peace and reconciliation.

Throughout he has been at pains to caution his people that they should try and refrain from using hurting words that would make peace brokerage impossible one day when it is time for the community to bury the hatchet and make peace.

Thus his call for a year of "peace and reconciliation" comes from this background, and one cannot find more genuineness to such a call than in his eternal craving for "peace and reconciliation", which no doubt is the utmost desire of the whole Ovambanderu community in Namibia, as much as the two sides to the disagreement would not publicly wish to admit to this.

The result of this seeming unending internecine war of a traditional community against itself, is that today within the areas inhabited by this community - social and economic and let alone cultural progress has been slow if not visible altogether, especially in the Epukiro Constituency in the Omaheke Region where the traditional community seems predominant.

In this unfortunate trajectory it is only understandable that leaders like Katjirua can hope for anything else other than for "peace and reconciliation".

Because after years of a state of limbo and practically in the development wilderness essentially, certainly the community and its leaders must not only have tired by now but must have learnt hard lessons. Necessarily 2013 may not present the community with any hope of peace and reconciliation but as long as there is a genuine craving for it among the leaders and the entire community, all and sundry need to act consequent to this craving and put the community will behind the mere craving.

Namibia has a developmental backlog which is partly attributable to its small population. If such population has to be reduced further by intra and inter-tribal squabbles tearing asunder communities, then the development vision we have set ourselves becomes a pipedream.

Not so much because we cannot achieve it but because of self imposed inhibitions.

If the community does not jump to it, it may one day have no one to blame but self. Too often communities have been fingering the government for not taking development to the people or rather channeling development to certain favoured communities. This is ignoring the fact that certain communities have equally not been making it easy for the government to channel development to them.

Not only this but as much community energies that ought to be expended better on progress seem to have gone wasted in timeless internecine squabbles. One needs not look further in a developmental aspect in this regard than to education where the Omaheke Region, of which the Epukiro Constituency is part, has been low on the log of educational achievement for the Grade 12s for the past two seasons, at 12th place.

It is not difficult to see the impact of the conflict within the community on education because the motivational contributions to education in the constituency by the various traditional leaders have been at worst disjointed and individual and at best indifferent if not incognizant and ignorant of the efforts of the one or the other traditional leader.

Simply put, traditional leaders in the constituency have as yet to join hands in their efforts in helping schools improve their educational performances.

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