Archive for the ‘Himba / Ovahimba’ Category

Panel finds corporations, United Nations and governments guilty of violating nature’s rights

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

By Indigenous Environmental Network.

Lima, Peru (Dec. 7, 2014)– The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature judged twelve international and domestic cases; examining the violation of the rights of peoples and nature committed by corporations, The United Nations, and governmental entities. The judgments reference the legal framework of the Rights of Nature and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. The cases were reviewed on Dec. 5th and 6th in Lima’s Gran Hotel Bolivar.

According to Alberto Acosta, president of the Tribunal and former president of the Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador, the rights of nature must have a universal validity. “This ethical tribunal arises when States fail to fulfill their obligation to preserve the lives of living beings,” said Acosta. “As long as nature is seen as property in law, there can be no justice for communities, the climate or nature.”

Acosta led the 13 judges through 12 cases

The Tribunal was dedicated to Shuar leader, José Tendentza, who was found murdered just days before the Tribunal. Tendentza of Southern Ecuador was scheduled to present the Condor Mine case. Acosta led the 13 judges through 12 cases that were determined by the judges to demonstrate egregious violations to rights of nature and human rights. Cases included:

-False Solutions related to Climate Change and REDD+;
-Peruvian cases: Conga Mine, Bagua Massacre – Defenders of Earth, 4 River Basins of Peru;
-Ecuadorian cases: Condor Mine, Chevron/Texaco, and Yasuni ITT
Brazil: Belo Monte Dam
-USA and Bolivia: Hydraulic fracturing “fracking”
-Oceans: BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, coal mine and other threats to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Of the cases, the oil exploitation of the Yasuni territory of Ecuador was condemned in addition to the relentless persecution Yasunidos are facing for their dissent. Since 2013, the Ecuadorian government green-lighted oil drilling in Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world and home to two indigenous nations in voluntary isolation.

In protest, a group of young Yasunidos joined together to claim the rights of nature, which are guaranteed in the Constitution of Ecuador. They collected more than 800,000 signatures to call for a referendum on the oil exploitation, but their request was rejected by electoral institutions. The Yasunidos are now suing the Ecuadorian government, led by President Rafael Correa, and are waiting for their complaint to be reviewed by the tribunal of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH).

Additionally, the Tribunal for the Rights of Nature found Chevron-Texaco in Ecuador to be guilty of using inappropriate technology and causing irreversible damage to the environment. They determined that the corporation must fully compensate those affected by the environmental impact.

The Peruvian cases of Conga and Bagua were accepted as threats of violation to the rights of nature. An international special commission was appointed to visit the impacted Amazonian basins to collect more information on the contamination.

The case of the mining project in the Cordillera del Condor was found by the Tribunal to be in direct violation of the rights of nature. They determined that mining must be suspended and those affected must be compensated. They urge the state to investigate and punish those responsible for the death of José Tendentza, the prominent social activist that was in opposition to the mining.

A widow of one of the four murdered activists shares her testimony

The Peruvian cases of Conga and Bagua were accepted as threats of violation to the rights of nature. An international special commission was appointed to visit the impacted Amazonian basins to collect more information on the contamination.

Shannon Biggs, director of Movement Rights, shared testimony on the impacts of fracking , a process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. “You cannot do safe fracking,” said Biggs. “This technique should have never been invented. It is one of the most destructive activities against the environment ever seen.”

According to Biggs, 800,000 active oil and gas wells are being fracked in the United States, producing roughly 300,000 natural gas barrels per day. Severe water pollution and earthquakes have been linked with fracking. “We die from fracking. The population is suffering from cancer; my sister has died,” said Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca) of Oklahoma in her testimony. “The water is contaminated; we cannot fish. We are in danger of extinction.”

Plans to develop large-scale hydraulic fracking in Bolivia were reported by Martin Vilela of Platform Climate Reaction. In recent years the country has increased the production and export of natural gas. 82.4% of its production is exported, generating more than six billion dollars a year. Bolivia has 8.23 trillion cubic feet of gas, and YPFB plans to invest over 40 million dollars between 2013 and 2015. Vilela explained that in 2013 this corporation signed an agreement for fracking in the Chaco area, a region with water scarcity to extract 48 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. Estimates determine that this would consume between 112 and 335 billion liters of water.

Nnimmo Bassey, a Nigerian architect, environmental activist presented on the contamination and temperature rise affecting Nigeria. According to Bassey, oil fields and pipelines have caused deep environmental degradation, deforestation, and countless oil spills. Life expectancy in these impacted areas is 44 years.

Bassey warned that climate change will have catastrophic consequences. “For every degree the temperature rises globally, in Africa it will rise an additional 50%.” In 2012 floods in Nigeria led to the relocation of 6 million inhabitants. Bassey speculates that in 2030 Africa violent conflicts will increase by 54% due to the lack of access to natural resources.

At the hearing on “false climate solutions,” geoengineering techniques that seek to manipulate climate without changing the conditions that cause climate change were reviewed.

REDD+ was also put on trial. President of the Huni Kui people of Acre, Brazil, Ninawa Kaxinawá (Hunikui) testified that “REDD is a lie. We do not accept putting nature on market because it is our soul and spirit; it is priceless, it is our voice.”

According to Ruth Nyambura, of the Biodiversity Network Africa, says that in Kenya, evictions are occurring as a result of REDD. “Four indigenous people were arrested,” said Nyambura. “A woman was hit by the forest service because she was outside of her land.”

The Tribunal is calling for a special hearing in Paris in 2015 to coincide with the upcoming UN COP 21 summit.

INFORMATION STATEMENT from Himba community Epupa, 30 March 2014

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

INFORMATION STATEMENT
EPUPA FALLS
30TH MARCH 2014
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, AS THE LEGAL AND TRADITIONAL INHABITANTS OF THE EPUPA REGION DECLARE AS FOLLOW:
The delegation of 14 that went to Windhoek this year to collaborate with the government, Chinese and outsiders does not represent us. Only the former headman Hikumene Kapika was born in this area.
1. We do not need outsiders to take decisions on our behalf. Our soil and the soil of our children are not for sale. We do not want the BAYNES HYDRO-ELECRIC DAM
2. We said NO so many times in the past and as the traditional owners of this area we have not changed our decision. This NO is for our all of us: Ovahimba, Ovazemba; in Namibia and Angola.
3. We want our government to adhere to Human Rights laws.
4. No dam will be built at Orokawe without our consent.
5. We are tired of promises of talks from the government.
6. We want the outside world to be informed of what is happening here.
7. We have a right to help from anybody. We do not want to be restricted in our movement.
8. Our new headman came in the place of former headman Hikuminue Kapika; the reason being that he turned his back on his traditional community and collaborated with foreigners. We have strong reason to believe that for the sake of money he signed Orokawe away. No individual has a right to our ancestral land.

On behalf of Epupa/Omavanda Community

Himba Information Statement Original 30 March 2014/Epupa

Himba Information Statement Original 30 March 2014/Epupa

—————–

READ also our previous article:
NAMIBIA: Semi-nomadic HIMBA march again in protest – against dam construction and government attempt to bribe Himba chief’s consent- 29 March 2014

Himba and Zemba People from Angola and Namibia protest thew plans to build hydro Orokawe dam 29.3.2014

Himba and Zemba from Angola and Namibia protest plans to build hydro Orokawe dam 29.3.2014

Himba protst against dam and bribery March 29th 2014- man holding sign revoking Hikuminue Kapika (who accepted bribes)

Himba protest against dam (March 29th 2014) Himba holding sign revoking Hikuminue Kapika as chief (because he accepted bribes to consent to dam against the will of his people)

NAMIBIA: Semi-nomadic HIMBA march again in protest – against dam construction and government attempt to bribe Himba chief’s consent- 29 March 2014

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

By Rebecca Sommer

The indigenous Himba people from Namibia object for over a decade to the construction of a hydro dam: They filed with the help of EARTH PEOPLES reports and complaint procedures at the United Nations, marched numerous times in protest, wrote letters to the head of state and other relevant governmental authorities.

Himba+Zemba from Angola and Namibia protest against dam and bribery (by Namibia and Chinese company that would build the dam) of their chief, 29.3.2014 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Himba+Zemba from Angola and Namibia protest against dam and bribery (by Namibia and Chinese company that would build the dam) of their chief, 29.3.2014 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Two sinister Namibian men in cahoots with the Namibia government and the Chinese company that would build the dam have been exposed to severe bribery attempts that lead to the downfall of former Himba chief Kapika. His younger brother from father side will take over the reigns next week.

Namibia regards Himba Chief Kapika (for region Epupa) as the main obstacle to the dam construction project that they desperately want to get off the ground.

It started somewhere in Novembr of last year, when information reached Earth Peoples for the first time that two Namibian business men, Mervin Hengari and Justice Tjirimuje, were heavily targeting Ovahimba (Himba) Chief Hikuminae Kapika to win his support for the construction of the Baynes Hydro Power Plant along the Kunene River.

Hengari and Tjirimuje are both due to go on trial on charges of corruption in connection with another dam issue, the Neckartal Dam tender, therefore it was more than worrisome to learn that they have made it their personal mission to bring Chief Kapika on board.

It is worthwhile to read the Observer24 Journalist Diana Ndimbra article from February 2014 for more details: Read Diana Ndimbra’s article:
GRAFT SUSPECTS FLIRT WITH CHIEF

After the two sinister characters had visited Kapika several times, they returned to the homestead of Kapika, this time with a Namibian governmental delegation, joined by Chinese company representatives that would build the dam at Orokawe.

It is said that he agreed to the proposal that members of the HImba community and himself would travel overseas “to learn about and to see dams”.

Very much to the dismay of the larger Himba community that learned about this invitation and trip to China once they had left, only two Himba were from the actual area that would be directly affected by the dam.

Himba protest 29 March 2014 / Himba women looking at the location of proposed dam (behind the mountain )  Photo © Earth Peoples

Himba protest 29 March 2014 / Himba women looking at the location of proposed dam (behind the mountain ) Photo © Earth Peoples

The group returned to Namibia in October, and since than the Himba people waited at several regional meetings for chief Kapika and the others to explain what had happened. Chief Kapika never showed up at any of the meetings, and his community grew by the time angrier while rumors began to spread that Kapika had signed a document which was believed to be a agreement on behalf of the Himba people to build the dam in Namibia.

After former chief Kapika’s return from China (and Cuba), the two murky businessmen Hengari and Tjirimuje brought Kapika and the others on a farm west of Okahnadja that belongs to one of the two businessmen men in question. There they told him that the intention was to make him a gazetted chief and promised the rest of the group of Herero and Himba 700 hundred thousand N$ to each of them should they convince him to sign his consent for the dam’s construction. Members of that group also reported to the community that several governmental meetings took place during the time in Windhoeck where governmental authorities confirmed and repeated the same promises (or bribes,  as one could say) .  The group stayed for nearly three months at the ranch.

After Kapika finally returned to Himba territory, his homestead Omuramba was all by a sudden protected by a permanent police contingent, and his own people were not allowed to speak with him without a police officer standing right next to him. They vacated his place only very recently some days ago, after the communities’ anger was starting to explode.

NAMIBIA: Himba / Zemba (Ovahimba / Ovazemba) people protest against governmental bribery of their chief to force consent on hydro dam construction with signs"NO to the dam" (PHOTO © EARTH PEOPLES)

NAMIBIA: Himba / Zemba (Ovahimba / Ovazemba) people protest against dam and governmental bribery of their chief to force his consent for hydro dam construction

At today’s indigenous peoples human rights protest that started in Okapare and ended in Epupa, with over 500 participants and covered by NBC, the Himba people reaffirmed their objection to the construction of the dam, and repeated their demands for their human rights.

They were joined by Himba from the other side of the border, Angola. Both countries don’t want to listen to their indigenous peoples, the original inhabitants of that very territory where both states want to build the dam.

“Nothing has changed, we strongly oppose the dam and will continue to fight its construction, no bribes and no targeting of our leaders will change that,” they said.

READ Himba Protest Declaration/Letter:

Himba Protest Letter 26 March 2014, explaining that they continue to object to dam construction and their objection to bribery attempts by the government of Namibia with the goal to get Himba Chief Kapika to sign a consent document to the dam.

Himba Protest Letter 26 March 2014, explaining that they continue to object to dam construction and their objection to bribery attempts by the government of Namibia with the goal to get Himba Chief Kapika to sign a consent document to the dam.

The Himba had made valuable suggestions to both states to use solar energy instead of blocking the water of the Kunene River. (Read here)

Listen to Himba’s human rights problems:
WATCH VIDEOS

Himba from Angola and Namibia protest March 29th 2014 against hydro dam / government bribery to force their chief's consent (images©Earth Peoples)

Himba from Angola and Namibia protest March 29th 2014 against hydro dam / government bribery to force their chief

Added by Earth Peoples blog administrator on the 30th of March 2014:
READ ALSO THE HIMBA INFORMATION STATEMENT 30 March 2014: HERE
Himba Information Statement written and signed on the 30 March 2014 explains that the Himba want the Namibian government to adhere to Human Rights laws, that they want the outside world to be informed of what is happening to them and that former headman Hikuminue Kapika was replaced to the newly appointed chief Mutambanda Kapika (fo Epupa/Omavanda region).

Namibia/ Indigenous Peoples: Semi nomadic Himba protest against hydro dam and for human rights 29 March 2014 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Namibia/ Indigenous Peoples: Semi nomadic Himba protest against hydro dam and for human rights 29 March 2014 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Indigenous peoples HIMBA community condemn RTL TV series “Wild Girls”

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Namibia’s Indigenous peoples, the semi nomadic Himba people contacted our human rights organization Earth Peoples  to help them stop and condemn the German RTL TV Reality show “Wild Girls”.

The Himba community informed Earth Peoples in various communications that they haven’t been informed about the mocking style in which the Himba are featured in the German RTL TV reality show.  The Himba say that RTL had instead promised them to use the TV show to inform the German RTL series viewers about the human rights problems that the Himba are facing in Namibia, as well as to sensitize the world about the unique culture of the semi-nomadic Himba people.

As the Himba do not speak German, and only a handful of the village speaks English, the indigenous villagers had no way to understand the words and content of the RTL film crew and the 12 German girls, and that is very wrong” said Rebecca Sommer from Earth Peoples, who had stayed with the Himba communities during an Earth Peoples human rights seminar for 3 months in 2012, which resulted in several Himba Declarations signed by the chiefs and a visit by UN Special Rapportuer Anaya, that exposed the Namibian Government for severe human rights violations against the Himba people.

Especially RTL “Wild Girls” viewers are encouraged to click the link below to learn about the reality – not a show, but the real situation and problems of the Himba: List of Earth Peoples Himba articles

Community respected village leader, who is featured in the RTL series, was shocked when he heard from several German Tourists that he was featured as a “wild” man who “wanted the white girl Senna Gammour”

Watch online in German Video: “Der Himbahäuptling hat ein Auge auf Senna Gammour”

The main regional Chief, Kapika,  from the entire region Epupa,  signed the letter to Earth Peoples, in the hope that we can stop the TV series to continue. Unfortunately RTL already broadcasted Wild Girls, but it is our opinion that they must pay at least some damage for not informing the Himba people correctly, as well as for using and abusing the Himba by portraying them as “funny wild savages” as a stage for their “wild girls”.  Also, considering what TV producers usually have to pay for location fees and salaries for participating and featured actors and persons, the list of RTL payments provided by Anitha Tjambiru, the English speaking Himba woman featured in the TV series, are an absolute outrage:

Direct copy of Anitha’s letter to us:

“Yes is me women and man 4 day the pay 5o ( 3.72 Euro/ 5.03 Dollar ) per person and for guide is 15o ( 11.17 Euro / 15.11 Dollar) for 4 days the own of the household 6o (4.46 Euro/ 6.04 Dollar) per day for 4 day. For the village is 10 000 (744.80 Euro / 1,007 Dollar) for use the village per day the give as food, maize 20 kg. Suger 2.5kg .Oil 2 liter and small things. 2 goats”

We will also organize that RTL hands us the DVDs with all the Episodes of the series, so that the Himba don’t need to listen to German Tourists but can see the TV series in which they are badly featured for themselves.

LETTER FROM THE HIMBA CONDEMNING RTL TV SERIES WILD GIRLS  –  ASKING EARTH PEOPLES FOR HELP TO INTERVENE ON THEIR BEHALF:

EPUPA COMMUNITY

KUNENE REGION

NAMIBIA

14 OCTOBER 2013

Re: Condemnation of WILD GIRLS film (RTL Reality Show)

We Epupa Community are not happy with a Film called “Wild Girls” or Movie of 12 Girls from Germany who were at Epupa in may 2013 this year, we as a community we really not happy with the above mentioned Film or movie of these people. We heard that film from our people staying in European countries and we also heard from our friends Tourist visited our area. After we realized that, we were naked and having sexual with those white girls, which was not true at all. We didn’t know that, that movie going to be positioned in that way, because they (RTL film team) told us that this nice movie, we thought may be just normal movies. This was shocked us to hear that we were involved in that stupid behaviors.

We strong condemn and stop that TV show not to contuinue showing untrue things and stupid activities, because it is really serious violation of our human rights and destroying the good image and culture.

Therefore we requesting Miss. Rebecca Sommer to intervene (on behalf of our community) in this story of the movie, in order to stop that obove mentioned Film not to continue showing that stupid TV show anymore. Further we ask mss Rebecca Sommer to demand (on our behalf) those 12 girls or wild girls to pay us money so that they can clean our names and image which they make it dirty for whole world, and we want you to go and get DVD from them and then send it to us so that we can watch it ourselves here.

We want this Film to stop right now, before we take further action !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yours sincere

Chief H. Kapika and Epupa Community including Tjikoko Kambindja and Tjikuva Hepute

—————-


TO READ ORIGINAL SIGNED LETTER CLICK HERE:

Himba letter to Earth Peoples asking for help against RTL TV show

Himba girl with goat (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Himba girl with goat (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Indigenous Peoples Namibia Report: UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples released the official report about the human rights situation of Namibia’s indigenous peoples.

Read report

It was Earth Peoples that made him aware about the very detailed grievances of the semi-nomadic Himba and other tribes from the North of Namibia. We submitted among four others, two Declarations signed by all the chiefs of the Himba to him, which had been the result of 2 months on the ground work by Earth Peoples to inform the Himba and other indigenous peoples about their rights as a people, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and ILO Convention Nr 169.

But when he was going to visit Namibia several months later, we had to find out from Himba’s in Opuwo town, and not from his office, that he was going to have a meeting with the Himba in Namibia, and Earth Peoples had to rush and work day and night – trying to reach as many Himba leaders as possible to explain to them who he is, and to encourage them to travel from far distances and great costs to Opuwo town to meet him.

As Earth Peoples had already with great worry expected, the current Special Rapporteur, James Anaya, hasn’t listened well to the people in question, nor did he took the time to consult with those that could have given him during his preparation of his report more in detail information on how specific problems could be tackled, and what policies, rules and laws in the country Namibia are the reasons why certain problems won’t go away if they are not addressed.

While the much liked former Special Rapportuer Rudolfo Stavenhagen always respected and listened with an open heart and kindness to all the indigenous peoples that reached out to him, including to their chosen allies, and always took great care and many communications in trying to understand the complicated situations he was reporting on, the current Special Rapporteur isn’t such an interested person- and he is not a team player.

The reason why we find in his reports inaccuracies and sometimes straight mistakes that indicate very clearly that he doesn’t took the time, nor the care, to fully understand the most important details on situations he is reporting about. In one report we even found names of indigenous tribes missing that are directly affected by a dam, while he included names of tribes that live thousands of miles away from the actual problem area. That shows us that his work is sloppy, and an actually embarrassment to the good work and office of the High Commissioner.

One of the main problem for him to full fill his position in a good way is his widely known arrogancy.
The second – he likes to listen to states he is reporting about, and takes great pains to repeat their praise for some progressive policies or legislative steps they may have taken.
The third problem – he likes to work, if at all, with established, UN-conference hopping, World Bank and government funded big NGOs as his only “advisors” that most often have no knowledge nor direct on-the-ground contacts with the indigenous peoples he is going to report about.

In other words, Earth Peoples is looking forward to the next Special Rapporteur, that hopefully will bring back the humbleness and interest, and most important work ethics – that this Rapporteur is clearly lacking.

Regarding the Namibia report, Anaya takes also here pains to praise the Namibian government for some of the progressive policy and legislative steps it has taken, and overlooks important details. Nonetheless, his report copied some of the points from the Himba Declarations, and his report provides -but ONLY a glimpse – of the discrimination, marginalization and exclusion that indigenous tribes in Namibia are facing.

Earth Peoples will post another article that will explain what Anaya has left out, overlooked, or didn’t mention in his report regarding the situation of the Himba people -and that, sadly, even so he was clearly informed.

Report on Namibia: UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

UN Special Rapporteur’s advanced unedited version report on Namibia here

German GIZ directly engaged with dispossessing indigenous peoples of their lands and territories in Namibia

Friday, March 29th, 2013

By Earth Peoples

The history of the Germans invading, oppressing, enslaving, exploiting, and ruthlessly killing the people of Namibia is an extremely shameful one.

It is important to understand Germany’s terrible past, to consider why especially German involvement through it’s GIZ agency in support of Namibia’s Land Reform efforts are highly inappropriate.

Herero genocide survivors (Ullstein-bilderdienst-berlin)

Herero genocide survivors (Ullstein-bilderdienst-berlin)

To ensure monopoly rights to exploit mineral deposits in Namibia, German bankers, industrialists and politicians illegally and fraudulently founded the German South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika, DSWA) as a colony of the German Empire from 1884 until 1915. The colonial aim was to dispossess the people of their land, for use of German settlers, as well as a source of raw materials and a market of German industrial products.

Under Bismark’s policy, an (il)legal system of the German colony was passed, creating a dual system with laws for Europeans and different laws for the original people of the land.

Countless uprisings took place against German rule, well before the Herero and Nama wars of 1903-1907, that lead to the first genocide of the 20th century, known as the Herero and Namaqua genocide – done by the Germans.

1915, the German South-West Africa colony was taken over by the Union of South Africa (as part of the British Empire) and administered as South-West Africa, until Namibia became impendent in 1990 and the youngest member state of the United Nations until recently.

In 2004, the German government recognized and apologized for the genocide, but has ruled out financial compensation for the victims’ descendants.

Today, Germany’s governmental development aid agency GIZ priority areas of activities in Namibia are economical development and management of natural resources.

San people in Namibia

San people in Namibia

Indigenous peoples, Himba and Zemba, told Earth Peoples that they experience Namibia’s land reform laws as a push to privatize their land. They call it the “land grab reform”.

Once again, Germany, through GIZ’s political and financial engagement with Namibia’s Land reform laws and policies is directly involved to dispossess indigenous peoples from their traditional lands and territories.

Himba Ovahimba – Ovatwa, Khoikhoi – Nama, Khoisan- San, Zemba – Tjimba are in urgent need for legal recognition of their collective land rights. As much as one may think that this is exactly what Namibia’s Government is thriving to do, and that communal land use laws, programmes and policies are ensuring just that, you got it partly right, but also utterly wrong.

Zemba girl with handmade doll (Photo © Rebecca Somer)

Zemba girl with handmade doll (Photo © Rebecca Somer)

Through land reform, the Namibian Government aims to redistribute land from the large-scale commercial sector to landless people and those with only marginal access to land. The reform is seen as the prerequisite for social and economic development, and is implemented through two parallel land reform programmes, communal land reform and commercial land reform.

Communal land reform involves “improved” control and regulation of the communal areas or ‘tribal’ land under traditional authority through communal land rights registration, whilst commercial land reform involves the redistribution of commercial farmland into previously disadvantaged hands through the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme and National Resettlement Programme.

This is a good initiative and certainly a step in the right direction, but here is the main PROBLEM:

Himba and Zemba, two indigenous people, have in their view no legitimate representation, because the Government of Namibia doesn’t recognize their traditional leaders, their chiefs, as “Traditional Authority”.

In the case of the Zemba people, the Government of Namibia even suggests that they are not Namibian’s, and should go back to Angola, entirely overlooking that they always lived on both sides of the border, as is the case with San and Himba, and for a matter of fact, the situation of most indigenous peoples that never had a say when state borders were created. The traditional chief of the Zemba people, recognized by Zemba people, is also not recognized as a “traditional authority”by Namibia.

To enter into complicated details, it seems that all Namibian tribes migrated once upon a time from other areas into current Namibia. Khoisan also known as Bushmen, or Hai//om (people who live around Etosha National Park) are the original people that lived there before anyone else of the tribes arrived that exist in today’s Namibia.

But let’s not discuss here what came first, the egg or the chicken.

As long as the situation of legitimate “traditional authority” recognition is not ensured by the state, and the legal recognition of indigenous peoples traditional territory in its entire, of the Himba and any other indigenous peoples, and the implementation of international human rights standards pertaining to indigenous peoples, GIZ should not engage with Namibia’s land reform processes.

Not as long as they take the land rights away from the indigenous peoples that wish to maintain their identity as a people, that are holding on to their way of life according to their ancestors.

But let the indigenous peoples themselves explain to you:

Watch Video here:

HIMBA chiefs oppressed and not recognized by Namibia

Watch Video:

Councilor of Epupa Constituency- HON. NGUZU MUHARUKUA and Himba leaders explains the Problems of HIMBA people in Namibia

Another video about the problems with the non-recognition of the traditional Himba leaders as “Traditional Authority” and the Communal Land Reform Act:
WATCH Video:

TRADITIONAL HIMBA LEADERS OBJECT TO NAMIBIA’S OPPRESSION

And this is what the Himba people’s traditional leaders are saying about the negative impact of the Communal Land Reform in their Human Rights Complaint Declaration, that was submitted to the United Nations, African Union, as well as to the President of Namibia:

” To our great grievance, the Namibian government has destroyed our ancestral traditional governance structure, by disposing and withholding the official recognition of 33 of us as rightful traditional leaders.
We and other traditional leaders from other tribes went to the High Court, and we won the case on December 13th 2001, and the Government of Namibia was ordered to re-install us in our rightful positions as Traditional Authorities.
But the state did not comply with the Court order to this very day, and we remain not recognized leaders, removed from our legal powers.
Today we have only 3 traditional chiefs that are recognized by the state, that share overlapping jurisdiction of the entire Kaokoland.
Our people and we strongly object to the states’ ruthless interference by the Government of Namibia that is disabling our people to choose their own leaders and destiny.
We therefore declare that the Government of Namibia deliberately disempowering us to govern ourselves within our Kaokoland to hinder us and our people to determine our own future, such as to ensure the continuity of our cultural identity, traditions and customs and our political institution, that we wish to preserve for the future generations.
Because we are no longer allowed to govern, and are not recognized by the Government of Namibia as the legitimate leaders of our people and land, we see our traditional territory being invaded by the ruling Owambo ethnic group in Namibia, that controls the ruling SWAPO Party which in turn runs the government.
The ruling SWAPO Party has been imposing on us laws, programs, leaders and projects that we don’t want, but we are made voiceless. We are not consulted, not included in any decision-making processes, nor are we heard when we object.
We are therefore the marginalized and oppressed tribe in our country Namibia.
We are currently facing a law that allows any citizen of Namibia to apply and receive 20 hectares of our land. (Communal Land Reform Act 5 of 2002).
We strongly object this law that is forced upon our throats against our will and consent.
This is a land grab! We are loosing our land. Our land is being fenced by outsiders that are not from our area.”

To read the entire Traditional Himba leader’s Declaration, click here

Himna and Zemba protested for a third time in the past months, for the reason of the negative impact of the Land Reform Act on their land rights, as well as other human rights violations, including the lack of implementation of their Free, Prior and informed consent (FPIC) which has been ignored by the state while pushing forward with plans to construct a hydroelectric dam on their territory in the Baynes Mountains’ Kunene River.
To read about their protest, click here.

And to end on a more positive note, here a visual manifestation of Himba culture:

WATCH Video:

HIMBA DANCE in Omuhonga, Kaokoland desert, Namibia (February 2012)

Nama huts in Namibia (Photo creative commons)

Nama huts in Namibia (Photo creative commons)

Namibia: Himba, Zemba reiterate ‘no’ to Baynes dam

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

By: CATHERINE SASMAN, for the Namibian

Why does Government want to build Orokawe Dam by force? (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Why does Government want to build Orokawe Dam by force? (Photo © Earth Peoples)

STANDING THEIR GROUND … Himba and Zemba communities yesterday protested against the planned Baynes hydro-electric dam, and made a plea for Government food relief.

INDIGENOUS Himba and Zemba communities from villages in the Kunene Region held a demonstration at Opuwo yesterday to express their frustration over unrecognised chiefs, illegal fencing of parts of their land, and the implementation of the Communal Land Reform Act of 2002.
Another pressing issue they want to drive home to the powers that be is the planned construction of a hydro-electric project in the Baynes Mountains, which they say would further push them off their land.

The communities staged various demonstrations last year to express their sentiments about these issues, but they feel that they are not being heard.
Rebecca Sommer, a German researcher of the human and natural rights group Earth Peoples, told The Namibian that the groups  signed letters a week ago, one addressed to President Hifikepunye Pohamba and one denouncing a meeting that took place in Windhoek with three members of the Himba community who spent some time in Windhoek to get clarity on the Baynes dam matter.
Sommer said at the contested meeting a 22-page report was handed out that states that an open-door approach would be pursued in which the communities would be consulted to avoid resettlement.
She said the Himba leaders on 21 March held a meeting at which the document was considered, adding: “… and they are angry. They say there is no door open, they say no. Therefore they feel that they are not heard.”

Himba and Zemba Protest March 25, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Himba and Zemba Protest March 25, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

“The report falsely states that we Himba have the door open for further negotiations and that forced resettlements could be therefore avoided,” said one of the Himba chiefs, Mutambo Omuhonga, who was part of the delegation to Windhoek.
He continued: “We are outraged. We said over and over ‘no’, and we mean it. There is no negotiation from our side, and there is no consultation, because they do not hear us when we say no. That is why we protest again to show our collective objection to the planned dam construction once again. We’d rather die and throw ourselves in the river before we allow the destruction and invasion of our land. We explained all that in our declaration.”
The groups issued a declaration to the United Nations last year in which they rejected the dam project.
Yesterday’s march was also to call for drought relief from the government. The communities want the government to subsidise fodder for their livestock, and to look into improving the distribution of drought relief food.
The Himba and Zemba communities are especially hard hit by the current drought because of their remoteness and the inaccessible terrain in which they live.
The communities fear that their cattle might start dying because of the extremely dry and hot weather conditions during this rainy season. With little or no rain this year yet, the communities have also not been able to plant gardens, so they do not have any maize to sustain them.
Sommer said the Himba delegation that was in Windhoek also met with solar-energy experts and concluded from this that the planned Baynes dam “does not make sense, not for the Himba and not for Namibia “.
The Himba headmen are now reportedly going to select 10 “bright men and women” willing to learn about solar power in the capital city. The Himba have also planned a trip to Tsumkwe where they can see a large off-grid power system.

Namibia Indigenous Peoples: Himba and Zemba LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT HIFIKEPUNYE POHAMBA

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

His Excellency the President
Office of the President (OoP)
No. 1 Engelberg Street Auasblick,
Windhoek
P/Bag: 13339, Windhoek

c.c. Office of the Prime Minister (OPM)
c.c. Minister of Presidential Affairs
c.c. Advisors to H.E. the President
c.c. Political Advisor to the President
c.c. Office of the Auditor-General (OAG)
c.c. Office of the Ombudsman Head Office
c.c. Office of the Ombudsman Oshakati
c.c. Prime Minister Mr. Hage Geingob
c.c. Chairman of the National Council Mr. Asser Kuveri Kapere
c.c. Chairman of the National Assembly Mr. Theo-Ben Gurirab
c.c. Judge-President of the High Court
c.c. Ministry of Justice and Attorney General (MoJ)
c.c. Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF)
c.c. Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET
c.c. Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR)
c.c. Ministry of Health and Social Services (MHSS)
c.c. Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration
c.c. Ministry of Youth, National Services, Sport and Culture (MYNSSC)
c.c. Ministry of Education (MoE)

Opuwo, March 25, 2013

His Exellency, Mr. President Hifikepunye Pohamba,

We, the Himba and Zemba people gathered here in Opuwo are preparing for our third manifestation in Opuwo this year, because we are unhappy.

We decided to write you a letter and to reach out to you in the hope that you will hear the sorrows, fears and concerns of Himba and Zemba, and that you care for us, like a father cares for his children. We are children to the soil from Namibia. Like all Namibians, we deeply love our land, especially our Himba territory Kaoko, as well as our Zemba territory in Ruacana, to which we belong for centuries.

We also wanted to thank you, we acknowledge and appreciate that you allowed the UN Special Rapportuer on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mr. James Anaya, to enter Namibia and to visit us. We are aware that you could have said no. It is this kind of openness that Namibia showed, that we envision for our future in our country, so that we can enter in a new era of mutual respect and understanding and dialogue. But that also means for us, in the case that we do not want a project or program to be implemented on our traditional land, that we want our collectively made decision to be heard, and to be respected.

We are and remain in distress, because we feel that we are often overlooked as well as marginalized by your Ministries and Offices. Our collective feeling of grievance is growing so much that we wish that you and your Prime Minister will invite us, the Traditional Leaders of our people, to speak with you in person.

We are Namibians, but we are also born as indigenous peoples, Himba and Zemba. We are what we are by tradition, culture and heart, and want to remain that way. Laws and policies in Namibia are more often than not against us, and interfere or even contradict with our culture, customs, traditions, our needs as well as with our aspirations. We believe that does not need to be this way. We would like to discuss our issues and suggestions with you directly.

You received our three Declarations in 2012 (Two Himba Declarations, one Zemba Declaration), in which we tried to explain in detail our unresolved and for us very serious problems as well as our needs and hopes. Unfortunately we do not feel that they have been taken into serious consideration. For your convenience we include our two Himba Declarations with this letter, as well as our Zemba Declaration. Please do not take offense, we send you our Declarations in good faith that you will take steps to address our legitimate needs a well as that they will encourage you to communicate with us directly.

One of our main concerns of the many that we Himba people do have is the dam. We do not want the dam, we never agreed to it in the past, and we won’t agree to it in the future. It would be constructed on our traditional land. We Himba live on both sides of the Kunene River. Our people in Angola do not want the dam either. Recently, we got hold of a report in Windhoek that was commissioned by one of your Ministries, but the report didn’t said the truth, but claimed that the “door would be open for further negotiations “ with us regarding the dam. We need to let you now, that the door is not open. We refuse to accept the dam.
Kindly do not try to force the dam upon us, on our beloved land and the Water. Allow it to live. Allow us to live as well. We recently learned that there are other solutions for energy, such as solar. The sun is always shining in Namibia, the sun can be used in its abundance to make energy, but the Water and the River are too precious to interfere with it.

The sun is burning the vegetation, and there is no rain in sight, the drought will make us suffer; soon our animals are going to die. The insufficient rain hindered us to plant our gardens, we have no maize. Please ensure that drought relief will reach also us Ovahimba, Ovatwa, Ovatjimba and Ovazemba living in the remotest area of your country. Please ensure that nothing get’s lost during the long way until actual relief is reaching us.

We, the Signees gathered here in Opuwo, on behalf of our communities and members that stayed behind with our animals, children and Elders urge you to grant our chosen representatives a meeting with you as soon as possible,

Respectfully yours:

Namibia: Indigenous Himba and Zemba – LETTER TO THE OMBUDSMAN JOHN ROBERT WALTERS (March 25, 2013)

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Office of the Ombudsman Head Office
Cnr of Feld and Lossen Streets
Private Bag 13211, Windhoek
Tel 061-220550 (Ombudsman)
Fax 061-226838 (Director and Investigations)

c.c. Office of the Ombudsman Oshakati
Magistrate’s Office, Main Road,
P O Box 2658
Tel 065-224638
Fax 065-224605

c.c. OHCHR
c.c. Special Rapportuer James Anaya
c.c. Earth Peoples
c.c. Namrights

OPUWO, March 25, 2013

Dear Ombudsman Mr. John Robert Walters

We, the Ovahimba, Ovatwa, Ovatjimba and Ovazemba, also known as Himba and Zemba, are gathered here in Opuwo for our third manifestation in Opuwo this year, because we are unhappy, and decided to write you a letter.

We have received information that your good Office is in communication with third concerned parties about our 2012 human rights violations Declarations, two from us Himba, one from us Zemba. But we haven’t gotten the impression that your regional office as well as your headquarters office has been available or accessible for us.

What we are envisioning from you is active and effective help to tackle our grievances and serious problems that we feel that we face in Namibia.

Some of them are dealing with legislation, others with insufficient implementation of the law, while in some cases the very policies and laws are in contradiction to our differentiated needs as well as rights that we do have as indigenous peoples.

For your convenience we include hardcopies of our two 2012 Human Rights violation complaint Declarations in this letter, as you know, both have been submitted to the United Nations and to the African Union.

We as semi-nomadic people have difficulties to travel with our communities to far distances due to money restrains and because of our livestock. Therefore we would like to ask you to come to us, and to hold several meetings in our regions and communities.

We hope to hear from you soon, best through the contact of our Councilor’s for each constituency, who would inform us and would coordinate with each other and arrange the meetings with you and us.

If that is not possible, please come back to us with other suggestions so that we will talk to each other in person.

We, the Signees gathered here in Opuwo, on behalf of our community members that stayed behind with our animals are looking forward to receive your response,

Respectfully yours