Herero perspective on land questions

Some passages of a conversation we were having with Mr Engelbert Matuzee, the pastor of Okandjatu, a town in the middel of Herero Country:

In the evening, Engelbert comes over to the fire in front of the house of Josh, a brazilian anthropologist we visit. When he wants to know what our group is doing in Namibia, this is the opening question to a discussion about the land question.

Mr Engelbert critizises strongly the governmental resettlement policy to buy up farms and then resettle people there that are not from the area. He points out that for example his people, who are confined to this Herero area east of Waterberg, could need an extension of their space to graze their cattle. They know how to use the land in this area. Additionally they feel strong links to their place, where they have their “holy fires” in front of their houses every night, as they are living there since they were brought there by the South African Administration in the Fourties (which he considers a long time). But one farm bordering to their area was given to Ovamo people from the north, although more than 1000 persons from the area applied for it. On the other hand a farm in Karas (more than 1000 km south) was given to Herero people who made an application to be resettled.


Landless people take to the stage


The farm-workers´ cemetery of Ongombo Ost No.140 Farm is a small, barren patch of land about an hours drive north-east from Windhoek. Sululu Isaacs, a landless Damara lady living in Windhoek is standing in front of the grave of her mother and tells us how she wanted to bury her mother there last year. It was her mother’s wish, since she was born and grew up on this farm, and all her ancestors have their graves there, too. The Italian owner of the Farm sent her away with harsh words. This led to an insurrection which many landless joined, calling for the expropriation of this land-owner by the government. The government turned this demand down and arrested about twenty activists in the course, but this was also the beginning of an independent and autonomous social movement of landless people in Namibia. Sululu Isaacks and other people founded an organization they called //Noason /Aes (our ancestors fires). Already by now poor and landless communities all over Namibia joined this movement.


Sululu’s (as she told us to call her) story gives an insight to several of the many problems that circle around the question of land in Namibia.

Besuch in den National Archives of Namibia

Am Freitag, dem 17. September waren wir in den National Archives of Namibia und haben uns mit dem Leiter, Werner Hillebrecht, getroffen. Die National Archives sind aus einem Archiv, das 1939 von deutschen Siedlern gegründet wurde, hervorgegangen. Später kamen Akten der südafrikanischen Kolonialverwaltung sowie Dokumente der Befreiungsbewegung hinzu.

Werner Hillebrecht führte uns durch die verschiedenen Räume des Archivs und kommentierte die verschiedenen Bestände. Passend zum inhaltlichen Schwerpunkt der Reise, der Landreform nach der Unabhängigkeit, zeigte uns Hillebrecht im Kartenarchiv verschiedene Landkarten, in denen die Besitzverhältnisse vor und nach den Enteignungen, die den Aufständen zwischen 1904 und 1908 folgten, verzeichnet waren. Hillbrecht erwähnte beiläufig, dass moralisch gesehen es eigentlich ja die deutsche Regierung sei, die einen Fond einrichten müsste um das Land von den weißen Farmern zurückzukaufen.