7 May 2013

Namibia: Vaalgras Community Honours Fallen Heroes

MEMBERS of the Vaalgras community, who are also known as the Nama speaking Herero, converged at Vaalgras on Sunday in remembrance of their fallen heroes.

In his message, the embattled chief of the Vaalgras community Joel Stephanus vowed that the tribe will continue to hold the annual traditional festival that honours their fallen heroes.

“I continue will to celebrate the tribe's annual festival even if I am alone. You may think it is not necessary to honour our ancestors because they died 100 years back, but if you stop holding the annual festival after I have died, I warn you that it will only bring you bad luck,” said Stephanus.

Stephanus reminded his followers that the Vaalgras community owes the Bondelswarts clan a huge thanks because they had selected their first tribal leader late Elias Stephanus Tjikuirire after crossing the Orange River from South Africa into Namibia in 1900 on the advise of their late chief Willem Christiaan.

This year's festival was again marred by deepening divisions among the Vaalgras community, as members of the concerned group who are out to topple Stephanus boycotted the gathering.

Speaking on behalf of the Ovaherero chief Tjinaani Maharero, who was a guest of honour at the event, the representative of the Kambazembi Royal HouseVeriuuka Tjakura stressed that culture is source of unity and strength and urged the Vaalgras community to continue holding their cultural activities.

“It's the power that enables you to demand what was yours and which heals the colonial damages inflicted on us,” Tjakura remarked.

Also speaking at the event, senior traditional councillor of the Vaalgras Traditional Authority Martin Biwa urged the younger generation to get involved in traditional activities as they are the future leaders.

Biwa also revealed that plans are afoot to establish a cultural centre at Vaalgras, adding that the establishment of the centre is aimed at preserving the group's cultural heritage.

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