THE aim should not be to use ancestral land to create new borders for our beloved country, but rather use it to unite all Namibians and to address the purposeful exclusion of the minority from the national pot.
What is the meaning of “ancestral land” in the first place? Ancestral land refers to the lands, territories and resources of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples may prefer to be described as custodians and guardians of their ancestral lands rather than as title owners. The concept of individual property ownership and land tenure that can be traded was introduced as part of colonialism.
We are all aware that there was no border dividing Africa in different countries hence the African people of those days had their territories in mind for grazing and other agricultural purposes. Africans might have been united but the continent was more of a clique continent.
Today’s Africa is a result of the Berlin Conference of 1884–85. The meeting between European nations was called by Europeans for Europeans, to create rules on how to peacefully colonise Africa and divide the continent among themselves with no disturbance.
The conference was convened by Portugal but led by Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the then newly-united Germany. Though invited, the U.S. declined to participate.
Africa was successfully divided into fragments and no European descendant can deny that version. As a result, today European descendants own enormous land in Africa. The border of today’s Namibia was not defined by any African man or in agreement with any African.
As if the first division of land was not enough, the colonial masters implemented the Odendaal Plan through which they legalised land ownership. Today the discussion is about how to exclude ancestral land from the controversial second land conference for the second time.
The topic of ancestral land is not new to the Swapo leadership. The topic was used by late Chief Clemence Kapuuo during the early 1970’s to convince Peter Reid, the Australian representative of the United Nations Special Committee of the 24 on Decolonisation to act against the UN General Assembly resolution of 1972, that recognised Swapo as a sole representative of all Namibian people.
It was the same topic that delighted the apartheid master of Afrikaners’ administration to sponsor a controversial conference “Turnhalle Constitutional Conference” which was held in Windhoek between 1975 and 1977. Fortunately the UN rejected the conference and its proposals. As a result, the ancestral land was the same topic which gave birth to the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) as a political party.
It is the same topic that opened doors for SWATF and KOEVOET to recruit black people, the same topic that was used to convince blacks inside the country that they were protecting their interest from terrorist attack.
The late Chief Clemence Kapuuo used the ancestral land topic to unite all tribes that were inside the country and unexpectedly, he even managed to bring white Afrikaners and all black traditional leaders to share coffee on the same table before and after the Turnhalle Conference.
No one in his rightful mind could imagine in the 1970’s that Dirk Mudge would be sharing a conference table with Chief Geelbooi Kashe to demonstrate unity of all Namibian people and that was done with the objectives of downgrading Swapo sole representation.
Today, the very same topic is used by pressure groups represented mainly by those with ancestral linkage to the land south of Oshivelo as pressure groups. It is surprising to know what AR’s position on the ancestral land topic is.
Pressure groups are using the same topic to unite against unfairness of the resettlement programme, unbalanced distribution of resources, unfair employment opportunities, advancement of the Swapo elitism and many injustices done by the Swapo led government hence Swapo need to down play the topic to be divisive topic and link it to Bantustan just to give it a sour taste.
In summary, the Odendaal plans was developed by the Afrikaners’ administration in the early 1960s with a hidden objective of giving limited land to the black and keep the rest to the themselves. At same time the plan was aimed at separating the blacks in ethnic grouping.
Today some elites in Swapo are applying similar tactics during the land resettlement process.
Unity from ancestral land pressure groups will result in a much stronger opposition hence Swapo elitist leadership is cautioned.
Mbunga Mbueza (Sir)
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015