Namibia: Riruako Centre for Genocide Launches

11 December 2018

Windhoek — The Riruako Centre for Genocide and Memory Studies, in honour of the late Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero, Dr Kuaima Riruako, is now officially opened.

Reigning Paramount Chief of the Ovaherero, Adv. Vekuii Rukoro, launched the centre situated in Feld Street in Windhoek. It could not have been launched on an appropriate day such as December 10, which is Human Rights Day internationally, but in Namibia better known as Old Location Massacre Day, or Swanu Day or Women's Day as it is historically known in Namibia by different strata of the Namibian society. But in honouring the late Dr Riruako, the launch of the centre could not have been befitting and associated with the Old Location Massacre in which the late Riruako as a young political activist at the time, like many of his peers, when they were instrumental in agitating against the forceful removal of the Africans to Katutura. Hence the existence today of the Old Cemetry Memorial, in memory of 12 people bulleted to death by the apartheid South African regime's armed police forces in the then South West Africa, Namibia today.

As the name of the centre denotes, which is a genocide centre, it is also a befitting memory given the pioneering work of the Pan African in internationalising the genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama, and putting it on the world map.

"Today is a special day in the calendar of our struggle for nationhood and independence. It is the 10th December - a day in which Kakurukaze Mungunda and many other Namibian women led the resistance against our people's forced removal to Katutura in 1959. Since then, we have commemorated this day as Namibian Women Day and I therefore wish to pay tribute to all Namibian women - past and present - that have contributed immensely to our nation," says Rukoro

Considering the day being Women's Day, the paramount chief paid tribute to his late wife, Mbapeua, as his pillar of unwavering support, especially at the time of his assuming " the enormous responsibility of paramount chief of the Ovaherero". He says 2018 marks 110 years since Imperial Germany opened the gates of the concentration camps in which the Ovaherero and Nama were being worked to death. "We were free to go but we had nowhere to go - our lands were expropriated and remain so to this day. Our homes were destroyed and our livestock were confiscated. Our surviving kith and kin were and remain scattered across Southern Africa as refugees and we did not even know where they were," says Rukoro. But over a hundred years later, the Ovaherero and Nama now have sufficient courage to reflect on that painful period and to document it for future generations so that they understand the pain that they shall continue to feel just as we do now. "Yes, we are technically independent as a country, but as a people, we the Ovaherero and Nama are substantially not free because our ancestral land has not been restored to us," says he. Hence The Riruako Centre for Genocide and Memory Studies. "The Herero Genocide is the first genocide of the twentieth century. It was declared on the October 2, 1904 and was followed immediately by the Nama Genocide which was declared on the 22 April 1905." Despite that, these two genocides with their continuing devastating impacts on our communities, are not studied and researched in any great measure and certainly not by members of the Namibian communities, specifically the Ovaherero and Nama. "This has to change and None But Ourselves" can do that," says the paramount chief adding that failure to research and draw the necessary lessons from these genocides resulted in these painful events repeating themselves in the Holocaust and the Rwanda Genocide amongst others.

Director of the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, Horore Gatera who was supposed to be the guest speaker, skyped his message as he could not attend.

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