Letters Readers’ views
The trouble with Namibia This is in reaction to your story “The Trouble with Namibia” (NA June). I must first thank your magazine for bringing us pertinent information about our beautiful continent. I consider myself a little bit knowledgeable about African affairs, but your report on Namibia left me totally flummoxed. I was (until I read your piece) a great admirer of former President Sam Nujoma whom I considered a great liberation leader. I honestly thought he was more than a popular, bearded revolutionary until I read from your report about the type of agreement he signed in the name of independence. Little wonder that these agreements are forever shrouded in great mystery.
We can contrast what happened in the colonies in Africa with what transpired after World War II when Germany was made to regurgitate everything it stole from her European captured territories on top of full compensation to the same countries. In Africa, they think that we should be satisfied with a flag and smiles!
With your editor’s permission, I shared an extract of the Namibia article on my Facebook wall, and the flurry of traffic I received was rather gratifying, as it greatly opened my eyes to the happenings in that beautiful but sadly racially-stratified land.
I can only express my shock and sadness as I read the lamentations of many Namibians about how their people lost all during the German invasions and how, up until today, young German boys prevent them from visiting their ancestral graves to pay homage!
Fortunately, at least for me, this is not a situation we experienced in West Africa. Having lived in Europe, where I did not see a single African owning even one square inch of European land, I cannot imagine how I would react to Europeans fencing hundreds upon hundreds of square kilometers of my people’s land in the name of private property.
It is sad and troubling to read the depth of pent-up anger among my Namibian Facebook contacts. In my humble opinion, the correct question to ask now is: Who are we doing a favour by pretending that all is jolly and well in Namibia? Truth has a way of emerging however hard they try to suppress it. And injustice has a way of blowing up in the face of its perpetrators
A colonial statue (popularly known as Von Trotha’s Statue) glorifying the perpetrators of the genocide against the Herero and Nama people of Namibia still stands in front of the National Museum in Windhoek however long it takes to explode.
Do the Western agencies, organisations and governments that perpetrated and abetted this gross injustice in Namibis hope that it will last forever? Do they really believe that Namibians will somehow just forget about their ancestral lands? Doesn’t Zimbabwe provide ample evidence about what will happen when we bury our heads in the sand and pretend not to understand that historic injustices need to be rectified?
Your report quoted a “SWAPO intellectual” talking about the incapacity of the government to act. I got hold of the Namibian Constitution and I found these relevant sections the Namibian government could use to get its land back from the absentee landlords.
Article 16: Property: (1) All persons shall have the right in any part of Namibia to acquire, own and dispose of all forms of immovable and movable property individually or in association with others and to bequeath their property to their heirs or legatees, provided that Parliament may by legislation prohibit or regulate as it deems expedient the right to acquire property by persons who are not Namibian citizens. (2) The State or a competent body or organ authorised by law may expropriate prop-
erty in the public interest subject to the payment of just compensation, in accordance with requirements and procedures to be determined by Act of Parliament.
There is no government anywhere that can claim impotence when it comes to overriding public interests. If the new elite in Namibia have the political will, I think they can do a lot to help their own people. Laws are made by men and women, and could be undone by men and women.
Section 16:2 of the Namibian Constitution empowers the government to act. If the occupiers refuse to play ball, the government, through parliament can and should enact legislation, and confiscate the land by paying the same compensation the land-owners claim that they paid.
Femi Kuta Kasoa, Ghana amibia’s plight I was shocked to read about the state of affairs in Namibia as highlighted in Baffour Ankomah’s article, “The Trouble with Namibia”. When we talk about capacity building and celebrate 20 years of the African Capacity Building Foundation and how it has facilitated the same in other African countries and institutions, and
4 | June 2011 New African