’Holy Fire’ Factions Settle

The two factions of the Ovaherero community who were at loggerheads over the location of the ‘Holy Fire’ at Commando 1 in Okahandja have reached an agreement. In a settlement that the lawyers for the parties presented to Judge Shafimana Uitele, it was agreed that the ‘Holy Fire’ be relocated to its original place. The dispute erupted when the ‘Holy Fire’ was moved in 2011 from the east of the Commando building, where it was ignited every August for the last 90 years, to the west side.

On Monday the legal representatives of the two factions, the Maherero clan and the Red Flag Regiment, requested an adjournment from Judge Uitele as they were busy negotiating, but needed more time to reach consensus. Yesterday they informed the judge that they have reached a settlement. Aocate Theo Frank who represented the Maherero Royal House Traditional Authority, assisted by Aocate Natasha Bassingtwaite, applauded Judge Uitele for giving them the opportunity to iron out their differences and asked the court to make the settlement an order of the court. Aocate Thomas Wylie who acted on behalf of the Red Flag Regiment, Ismael Kamuhapita and Abisai Mungendje voiced his agreement with Frank. In short the settlement state that the ‘Holy Fire’ which is at the centre of Ovaherero tradition and commemorations, such as the annual August gathering to commemorate their ancestors and deceased leaders must be relocated to its original place. It states “the parties are in agreement as to the significance of the annual commemoration and the importance to the greater Ovaherero community of these commemorations continuing on an annual basis as it did during the last nearly nine decades”. For this reason the parties have compromised and agreed that the Red Flag Regiment is a voluntary association open to the whole of the Herero people and is not exclusive to the Maharero Clan or any of the other Herero clans. The Red Flag Regiment through its Commando 1, based at Okahandja, shall be responsible for the arrangement of the annual commemorations at Okahandja during August each year, and shall do so in consultation with all interested parties, including (but not limited to) the Maharero Clan in terms of the practice and tradition prevailing up to 2011 it was agreed.

It was further agreed that the status quo in respect of the fire lit during commemorations conducted at Okahandja during August each year, will be restored by the Maharero Clan to its position prior to 2011 and will be maintained in terms of past practice and traditions followed prior to August 2011. This entails that the Maharero Clan shall ignite a fire by the Friday morning of the weekend that the commemorations are to take place and shall maintain this fire till dawn on the Sunday morning of the commemorations. The agreement makes specific reference that the fire shall be ignited to the east of the Commando Building where it was for almost ninety years and that the fire must be ignited and maintained in accordance with the traditions and practices that will enable its use for the purposes of notifying the ancestors of the upcoming events, perform such other rituals as may be required and of introducing participants in the commemorations to the ancestors. “No one other than the applicant (the Maharero Clan) or persons authorised by the applicant shall remove or relocated the said fire” the agreement concludes. It was also agreed that both parties will pay its own legal costs. After the agreement was made an order of the court, it was hugs and handshakes all around from the members of the Herero community who packed the court room to capacity. Persons of note who attended the court session included Dr Hoze Riruako, Aocate Vekuii Rukoro, Katuutire Kaura and Chief of the Maharero Clan, Tjinaani Maherero.

Source : New Era