Thousands Bid Riruako Farewell

OKAHANDJA town came to a standstill yesterday when more than 30 000 mourners from as far as the United States and Germany bade farewell to the OvaHerero paramount chief, Kuaima Riruako.

Riruako, who died on 2 June at the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek, was buried at the Heroes and Heroines’ Cemetery, where other leaders such as Clemens Kapuuo and Chief Hosea Kutako who fought against colonisation are buried.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba, First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba, Prime Minister Hage Geingob, government officials, politicians and representative of various traditional authorities, also attended.

The three-day event started on Friday with a memorial service at the Parliament Gardens in Windhoek where politicians and other dignitaries paid tribute to the late chief.

Proceedings then moved to Okahandja Commando Hall in the evening where scenes of men, women and children of all ages, dressed in red, white and green OvaHerero colours, paraded and marched along the streets of the town situated about 70 km north of Windhoek.

There were horse riders, chanters and traditional dancers who took turns to perform, despite clouds of dust blown about by the winter wind. More than 60 herd of cattle, a number of sheep and goats were slaughtered.

In his speech read by Geingob on Friday, President Pohamba described Riruako as a courageous man.

“Riruako was bold and vocal on national issues and expressed his views freely. His death is a loss not only to his family, the Ovaherero community, and Nudo party, but to Namibia as whole,” he said.

Pohamba said Riruako will be remembered for the role he played in addressing the historical past between Namibia and Germany. Riruako also played an important role in the return of human remains from Germany.

“He stood firm on his demands for reparations and introduced a motion in Parliament, which was widely debated and eventually unanimously approved,” said Pohamba.

Henk Mudge of the Republican Party of Namibia, who also spoke on Friday, said the death of Riruako was a shock to him. Mudge described Riruako as a colourful person who knew exactly what he wanted and that he would be missed in Parliament.

“Namibia should know that not Chief Clemens Kapuuo, not Chief Kuaima Riruako, not Dirk Mudge and not any other leader who was involved in the run-up of the Turnhalle Alliance, later the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) were puppets of the South African regime. Any suggestion that that was the case is devoid of truth,” said Mudge.

Former ambassador Zedekia Ngavirue said it was important to learn from Riruako’s legacy because he was a prime mover of the descendants of the Ovaherero people.

Ngavirue said Riruako was not only a chief of the traditional authority but had created it.

“There are two things to keep in mind, the traditional authority that we inherit from Riruako is a secular structure and it is not linked to any particular holy fire,” he said.

Although Ngavirue said it was too early to determine who will succeed Riruako, the Ministry of Regional Local Government and Housing’s guidance will be needed. Deputy Commissioner of the Namibian Police in Otjozondjupa, Gerhard Mavenjono, said about 100 police officers from both Khomas and Otjozondjupa were deployed to oversee the event.

Riruako is survived by his widow and 16 children.

Source : The Namibian