Herero Factions Bury Hatchet Over Holy Fire

TWO factions of the Ovaherero community yesterday agreed to return the traditional holy fire to its original place in Okahandja, as part of settling a long-running legal dispute over the custodianship of the fire.

The settlement puts to rest a case in which the Maharero Royal House Traditional Authority wanted the Windhoek High Court to award it the sole right to light and maintain the fire at the commando hall at Okahandja.

This comes after two members of the Red Flag Association, led by the late chief Kuaima Riruako, chose to light the fire on the western side of the hall instead of the eastern side, as it has always been since the death of Samuel Maharero in 1923.

The settlement to the dispute comes three days before Riruako’s burial scheduled to take place at Okahandja this weekend.

According to the out-of-court settlement, the groups agreed to allow the Red Flag Association to carry on its duties of lighting and maintaining the holy fire.

The agreement also says that the fire, which shall burn throughout the whole weekend of the commemorations every August, must be lit on Friday morning.

Furthermore, the agreement said, the fire shall be lit in accordance with the tradition and practice for the purposes of notifying and introducing participants to the ancestors.

In addition, the annual commemoration shall be organised in consultation with all interested parties in accordance with the prevailing practice.

“No one other than the applicant or persons authorised by the applicant shall remove or relocate the fire,” read the settlement.

Judge Shafimana Ueitele ordered that each group should bear its own legal costs. Lawyer Theo Frank represented the royal house, while Thomas Wylie represented the Red Flag Association.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, Hoze Riruako said the turn of events was a delight, and that the dispute had been unnecessary.

“It is one day that I must say I am delighted because it is high time our nation unites. We are a small group and for us to fight defies logic. We must try to bury our differences and move on as children of one mother,” said Riruako.

DTA of Namibia member of parliament Katuutire Kaura said: “We are one people and therefore reconciliation is paramount. I am delighted that at last the dispute has come to an end. Now the soul of our late chief will rest in peace.”

Political analyst Phanuel Kaapama agreed with Riruako and Kaura’s sentiments, saying the decision will honour the request of the late chief Alfons Kaihepovazandu Maharero of the Maharero Royal House who died in 2012.

“Maharero implored us during his last days that the holy fire should be returned to its original place,” said Kaapama.

Source : The Namibian