Kaende Nawa Mbara Yetu (Go in Peace Our King)

IT would be unbecoming of me not to pay homage to the Ovaherero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako, who sadly passed away in hospital on Monday.

It was a sudden shocking exit that no one expected. The Ovaherero people and the entire nation at large can already feel the vacuum that this gentle giant left behind. He was indeed a son of the soil, who will be remembered especially for his unequivocal and firm stand on the issue of reparations and the German genocide against the Ovaherero and Nama people. Even when he differed on issues with his political opponents, one could sense that mutual respect and love they shared with the king. I am referring to Riruako as king and not as chief on purpose, because having followed and assimilated some of Dr Joseph Diescho’s lectures and teachings and in particular, I quote when he said, “King is supreme, but chief is who they (Europeans) can walk through.” I do agree that in our African traditions we didn’t have chiefs and that it was a colonial creation, hence we cannot translate ‘ombara’ (meaning king) to chief.

Just as in the case of the passing of Madiba and other great leaders of our time, I say again, we are the ones who will recount this history in our time as we have witnessed some of the biggest happenings.

I feel proud and fortunate to have been part of the delegation together with Riruako that descended on Berlin to bring back the first set of skulls to Namibia in 2011. But while we shed tears with the king’s passing, I am sure there are moments that we can all smile or laugh about, not forgetting the cheerful and amusing person he was. Even our president reminisced about his longstanding friendship with Riruako that spanned over four decades and that whenever they met, there was always hugging, talking and joking.

The king had a very unique voice and accent whether it was on radio, television or in person. The moment you heard that voice, you just knew it was him. But you had to listen very closely and attentively to distinguish which language he was speaking between Otjiherero and American English.

I know of some who people tried fruitlessly to imitate the king’s language, but could just not roll the tongue the right way, especially when asking “oruhere ruomaere mori?” (Will you eat porridge with sour milk?) Or when he apparently questioned why the Ovaherero people should fight for the return of Walvis Bay when his people don’t eat fish and their cattle don’t drink salt water.

There are so many hilarious moments that he shared, which may not fit this page. I am sure that the Members of Parliament, whom he shared a platform with for decades, also have their own best recounts of the man whom we refer to as the architect of the fight for reparations and restitution of the dignity of the descendants of the victims of German genocide. He was indeed a delightful person.

Kaende nawa Mbara yetu!

Source : New Era