15 April 2019

Namibia: Honour Freedom Fighters - Sioka

Gender equality minister Doreen Sioka says observing days commemorating the selflessness of those killed in the liberation struggle was vital in helping heal past wounds.

Sioka made these remarks on Friday during a memorial service held in Windhoek in honour of those whose lives were lost during the Hornkranz massacre some 126 years ago.

About 200 German colonial soldiers began a crackdown on Nama-speaking people at Hornkranz, south-west of Windhoek.

The atrocious attacks are believed to have been an act of retaliation after the soldiers failed to capture or kill Nama chief kaptein Hendrik (!Nanseb) Witbooi, who was an icon of colonial resistance.

Eighty women and children were reportedly killed in the brutal attacks -- described to be among the first cases of gender-based violence committed in Namibia, while an estimated 100 others were wounded.

Mentioning dedicated days such as Heroes Day, Cassinga Day and Human Rights Day, the minister said the "suffering and sacrifices made by our people will not be forgotten."

She added that commemorations such as 16 days of activism against gender-based violence are some of the ways her ministry was working on to protect vulnerable members of society.

Sioka further spoke about various international resolutions Namibia had signed in a bid to ratify the rights of women and the welfare of children, as well as many policies and acts of parliament to address issues of gender inequality and the rights of women and children.

"Through these acts and policies, we have taken the bold steps to ensure our women and children as well as our male counterparts are protected, and their rights promoted and safeguarded," she remarked.

Sioka assured her audience that the memorial service had opened another chapter in ensuring national inclusivity, and that "we as a nation will not leave anyone or any atrocity behind or unattended."

Deputy prime minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who stood in for president Hage Geingob, encouraged Namibians to unite and work peacefully towards nation-building.

Observing that the massacre left "an indelible scar on the Namibian people," she advised the German government to "admit the wrongs committed against the Namibian people."

"Although the commemoration of events such as the Hornkranz massacre invokes painful memories, we should, however, be graced by an atmosphere of peace, sensitivity and understanding.

"This massacre, like many others, has a special place in the history of our country as they sowed the seed of the war of national resistance, leading to our liberation struggle," Nandi-Ndaitwah said.

The deputy prime minister alluded to remarks made by Geingob on the occasion of the return of Witbooi's Bible and whip, and a statement made by founding president Sam Nujoma in his inaugural speech on Independence Day 1990. Geingob remarked: "Never again shall the people of Namibia suffer under imperialist aggression; never again shall the people of Namibia suffer under racist violence."

On 21 March 1990, Nujoma declared: "I move, in the name of our people, to declare that Namibia is forever free, sovereign and independent."

The Witbooi Traditional Authority's senior councillor, Simon Otto Jacobs, narrated in a sombre tone the fateful day's turn of events, before talking about looting which took place after the massacre.

"The recent return of the Bible and the whip in February 2019 is clear testimony to that looting", he added.


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