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

His Excellency the President
Office of the President (OoP)
No. 1 Engelberg Street Auasblick,
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:

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One Response to “Namibia Indigenous Peoples: Himba and Zemba LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT HIFIKEPUNYE POHAMBA”

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