By Eliaser Ndeyanale
THE just-ended 12th Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Assembly in Windhoek has highlighted the immeasurable contribution that local and international Lutheran churches played in the liberation struggle, as well as the education of thousands of Namibians, who today hold prominent positions in all spheres in the Land of the Brave.
President Hage Geingob, who is himself a Lutheran, spoke at the LWF Assembly, which took place from 10 to 16 May, and said that Namibia was grateful to the Lutheran church, not only for its moral support, but also material support, during the struggle against oppression.
“So, you can see why we have a special affinity with the Lutheran World Federation. We have some 775 000 Lutherans in Namibia.
He added that the Lutheran church has continued to guide Namibians to stand for justice, integrity and honesty, anchored in faith.
“We value the church’s contribution as we, in the government, too, are accelerating our efforts to promote effective governance and service delivery under the Harambee Prosperity Plan. Anti-corruption initiatives are an integral part of this effort,” Geingob said.
“We are taking a leaf out of Martin Luther’s writings, as we also seek to build a new society in reconciliation. I recall Luther’s inquiry into the nature of atonement (or reconciliation) that presupposes a broken relationship. Atonement brings about the restoration of the relationship. Our policy of reconciliation draws on this experience.”
Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Minister, Zephania Kameeta, who is a former bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), said Namibians should appreciate the role the LWF played during the liberation struggle.
Former General-Secretary of the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN), Abisai Shejavali, who himself benefited from a LWF scholarship, said the global community of 145 churches had assisted many Namibians, including priests like Dr Tshapaka Kapolo and many other senior officials in government, with scholarships.
This past Saturday, thousands of members of the Lutheran church gathered at the Sam Nujoma Stadium to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
The commemoration formed part of the LWF Assembly, which represents tens of millions of people around the world.
On Saturday a Nigerian, Archbishop Musa Panti Filibus, was elected head of the LWF.
Filibus, 57, is the second church leader from Africa to lead the Lutheran federation since it was founded in 1947.
The Protestant Reformation was initiated in 1517 by Martin Luther, in response to what he said were excesses and abuses within the Catholic Church.
Divide and rule
Under South African rule, the policy was to divide people along racial and tribal lines. The churches were virtually the only organisations that brought people together inside Namibia. It was largely through the church that black Namibians could have access to education, health care, human dignity and democratic decision making. The church also gave black Namibians contact with the world at large.
The LWF walked in solidarity with the Namibians through humanitarian assistance for refugees, project support for the churches, scholarships, and extensive advocacy. It is fair to say that the UN transitional peace plan could not have succeeded without the active support and cooperation of the church.
Given the LWF’s long and strong links with Namibia and Namibian refugees, it was no surprise that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Namibian churches asked the LWF to have a role in the repatriation of refugees. A part of UN Resolution 435 called for Namibian refugees to return home in time to be able to participate in the transition process and vote in the elections.
The CCN had overall responsibility for implementing the Repatriation, Resettlement and Reconstruction (RRR) programme. The LWF World Service provided financial and technical support, particularly in the areas of administrative and financial systems, design and construction of refugee reception centres, and distribution of food and supplies to resettled refugees. The repatriation operation in 1989 was a great success, with more than 41 000 Namibians able to return home in safety and dignity.
During the LWF Assembly in Windhoek, the organisation called for reconciliation between Namibia and Germany, over the pain and suffering caused by the 1904 to 1908 genocide.
“The fate of the Herero, Nama and other indigenous people under the rule of German colonial powers at the beginning of the 20th century continues causing pain among Namibian and German people until today,” an LWF statement said.
“We are encouraged that the Namibian and German governments have taken up this pain and are committed to a process of telling the truth and doing justice.
“The LWF knows from similar experiences around the world that painful memories won’t go away until they are addressed. Only when the truth has been told and justice is sought, can genuine reconciliation over the pains of the past take place,” said LWF Head of Communication, Revered Árni Svanur Daníelsson.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015