Posts Tagged ‘Cunene Kunene’

HIMBA+ZEMBA updates about UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya visit in Namibia -26 September 2012

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

By Rebecca Sommer

Traditional Himba leader Chief Kapika signing the Himba invitation to James Anaya (Photo © Rebecca Sommer, 2012)

Traditional Himba leader Chief Kapika signing the Himba invitation to James Anaya (Photo © Rebecca Sommer, 2012)

The traditional Himba and Zemba leaders of Namibia informed that the meeting with James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, that took place in Opuwo, Namibia, on the 26 Sept 2012, went well and as they had envisioned and hoped for. The room was packed with Himba and Zemba, patiently waiting for him to arrive.

At the beginning of this year, Himba leaders wrote an invitation letter to  James Anaya, requesting him to come for a country visit in order to investigate the human rights violations against the semi-nomadic Himba and Zemba. In three historic Declarations, signed by the traditional chiefs of  the Ovazemba (Zemba) and Ovahimba (Himba),  a number of serious issues where raised.

They claim that the problem is that Namibia is ruled by Ovambo,  the majority tribe of Namibia, and the Himba and Zemba, a minority in the country. They explain in their Declarations why they feel that they,  a distinct people, are not only marginalized by the ruling party SWAPO, but that their way of life and culture is threatened. That their own indigenous governance system is not respected and actually disabled by the Government of Namibia – that doesn’t recognize the legitimate traditional Himba and Zemba chiefs. The Declarations cover complaints about the culturally non-appropiate educational system (they don’t want to be pressed into an old style british kind of school system, that denies their children to remain in their traditional cloths and indigenous tribal identity), the lack of Free, Prior, Informed Consent, the loss of grazing land through laws that allow privatization and fencing of communal lands so important for the roaming semi-nomadic cattle, sheep and goat herders, the lack of land rights and their refusal to accept the planned dam in Orokawe, among many other issues that few tourists that are visiting Namibia are aware about.

“After the Special Rapporteur introduced himself, Himba was given the time to read the DECLARATION BY THE TRADITIONAL LEADERS OF KAOKOLAND IN NAMIBIA, afterwards Ovazemba read their DECLARATION BY THE ZEMBA PEOPLE OF NAMIBIA, and at last the regional Epupa DECLARATION OF THE MOST AFFECTED OVAHIMBA, OVATWA, OVATJIMBA AND OVAZEMBA AGAINST THE OROKAWE DAM IN THE BAYNES MOUNTAIN was read as well.

“No one was against those three Declarations in the packed room, because all the participants were those who are part and parcel of the Declarations. Himba and Zemba are united in our demand and struggle for our human rights.

 Muhapika Munjombara signing the Epupa Declaration against the Orokawe dam (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Muhapika Munjombara signing the Epupa Declaration against the Orokawe dam (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

In a final ceremonial gesture, the only female traditional Himba chief, a position that she inherited from her father and former chief, handed the Declaration of the Himba Leaders of Kaokoland to Anaya, a Zemba Woman was handing over the Ovazemba Declaration and Mutjituika Mutambo from Omuhonga was handing over the Epupa Declaration.” ” said Daniel Muharukua, a well known Himba human rights advocate.

“This was very wonderful, the way we wanted it to be. I think this was tauching the heart of the Special Rapporteur. The discussion was just around the Declarations, because the Special Rapporteur wanted to know how those points in our Declarations affected us, people were giving the reasons why we are negatively affected. When the people were handing over the Declarations, the whole crowd was standing and clabing hands.

Ovahimba Elder (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Ovahimba Elder (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

I think he realized that our Declaration came really from our hearts.

When the Special Reportuer said his concluding words, he thanked the Himba and Zemba people, acknowledged that we came in such large numbers from far away, and that he was pleased to see that we are active to fight for our rights. The last words he said was that we touched his heart, and that when he will be writing his report, we will be reflected in his eyes. He promised to write the report and spreading our situation to the international community.” Muharukua added.

Sadly, the Himba and Zemba won’t be able to attend and participate at the press conference that will take place in Namibia’s capital Windhoeck. I bet, who will attend the press conference are those NGO’s that claim to represent Himba and Zemba.

“We will not able to attend, because the time was too short to arrange this journey, there is no money to take people there for the transport, food and accommodation. I am sorry for that. You know how the indigenous peoples Ovahimba and Ovazemba are living.” Muharukua ended with these words his report to Earth Peoples.

Himba women (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Himba women (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

You can read more articles about Himba and Zemba on Earth Peoples blog.
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EARTH PEOPLES note: read James Anaya’s statement
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