Posts Tagged ‘DECLARATION BY THE TRADITIONAL HIMBA LEADERS OF KAOKOLAND IN NAMIBIA’

INDIGENOUS SEMI-NOMADIC HIMBA AMD ZEMBA PROTEST AGAIN AGAINST PLANNED DAM CONSTRUCTION AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

By Rebecca Sommer

EARTH PEOPLES – NAMIBIA 23 March, 2013: Growing numbers of semi-nomadic Himba and Zemba people are gathering in Opuwo town in the heart of Himba territory for their third Protest in 2013. The protest will start Monday morning.

Indigenous Himba protest against dam and human rights violations, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Indigenous Himba protest against dam and human rights violations, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

The young and old are arriving by foot, in overloaded trucks and on donkey’s from all four directions of Kaokoland (Kunene region), despite prevailing drought conditions due to Climate Change, and their growingly frantic search for grazing and water for their livestock.

Each Himba and Zemba community has sent members which they could spare, while those staying behind will tend to the needs of their goats, sheep and cattle that are increasingly weakened by the drought, upon which the Himba and Zemba depend for their very survival.

The drought has caused already enormous damage for the self-sufficient semi-nomads, with nearly no rain they could not make gardens, thus they have no harvest of maize and other nutritional crops.

The indigenous peoples in the Kunene Region are already calling on government to subsidize fodder for their livestock, and to look into improving the distribution of drought relief food. The community made formal requests to the chairperson of the Kunene Regional Council’s Management Committee, Dudu Murorua, at Opuwo.

Indigenous Zemba protest 2013 in Namibia (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Indigenous Zemba protest 2013 in Namibia (Photo © Earth Peoples)

But as much as they fear for their livestock and to face soon hunger and thirst, they are also hungry and thirsty for something else: Their human rights. They want to see changes, and they want to be heard by the majority tribe that leads the Government of Namibia. They want to have the right and means to maintain their culture, way of life, language, religion, traditional governance structure and so much more.

The protest is about their continuous human rights grievances, which made headlines in Namibia and the world after being published for the first time in form of two Declarations signed by all the traditional Himba chiefs at the beginning of last year.

On behalf of the Himba and Zemba,  Earth Peoples submitted both Declarations to the United Nations system. Our dear colleagues from Namrights submitted the Declarations to the African Union.

Read: DECLARATION OF THE DIRECTLY AFFECTED OVAHIMBA, OVATWA, OVATJIMBA AND OVAZEMBA AGAINST THE OROKAWE DAM IN THE BAYNES MOUNTAINS (Neckartal Dam project)

Read: DECLARATION OF THE TRADITIONAL HIMBA LEADERS OF KAOKOLAND IN NAMIBIA

Months later, the United Nations Special Rapporteur visited the Himba and Zemba and met them in Opuwo, were Himba read their Declaration and handed him a copy in person.

The UN Special Rapportuer Anaya confirmed in his Statement the human rights violations that the Himba people are facing, which can be read here.

The Himba will draft and sign two additional letters. One will be addressed to the President of Namibia, and the other handed to the Governor of Opuwo on Monday. Both Declarations will be submitted once again to both of them.

“They got our Declarations, the responsible including the President are aware about our situation. But nothing has been done, we continue to be ignored” said community leader D. Muharukua from Opuwo.

Additionally, the Himba are furious about a 22-page report that was handed to three of their representatives that had traveled to Windhoek to seek information and clarification on the proposed hydroelectric dam (Neckartal Dam project) in the Baynes Mountains.

Namibia and Angola are planning to finance and build the Orokawe dam jointly.

Zemba women at human rights protest in Opuwo, Namibia, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Himba women at human rights protest in Opuwo, Namibia, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

“The report falsely states that we Himba have the door open for further negotiations, and that forced resettlement could be therefore avoided” said Mutambo, a leader from the Himba community Omuhonga who was at the meeting in Windhoek. “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’s why we protest Monday again, to show our collective objection to the planned Neckartal Dam construction once again. We rather die and throw us into the River, before we allow the destruction and invasion of our land. We explained all that in our Declaration ” He added. (http://earthpeoples.org/blog/?p=1070)

The Himba will also discuss this weekend the idea to propose Solar systems as an alternative to the dam. They plan a trip to Tsumkwe so that they can see a large off-grid system. The Himba Elders and chiefs will also choose about 10 bright young men and women that speak english and can read and write, to learn more about Solar systems these coming weeks.

Earth Peoples Videos by Sommerfilm)

Earth Peoples Videos by Sommerfilms

To hear about Himba’s human rights problems,

click here to WATCH VIDEOS

+++++++++++++++++ PRO AND CONTRA :

Orokawe dam in the Baynes Mountains:

• Will cost a minimum of 22bn N$ if not more

• Will need a complete overhauled stronger power line from the dam site to Omburo

• Will have a surface of 5900ha which evaporates 590000 tones of water per day which is in the region of 20% from the low-season run-off

• Will take minimum 10 years to come online

• Will need a lengthy power contract to be signed with Angola

• Will need to share the power 50/50 with Angola

• Will only be a peaking station because not enough water to run the 600MW turbines 24/7 (Only 1.7 TWh energy for the year vs. 5.0 TWh (if water would be enough)

• Will again not be Namibia’s own power because of the sharing

• Will again mean an investment that puts all eggs in one basket relying on the Kunene

• Will cause forced resettlement

• Will destroy special safety areas for indigenous peoples livestock at drought

• Will destroy sacred sites of indigenous peoples

• Will destroy special medicine plant areas of the Himba and Ovazemba

• Will damage the River

• Would make no sense in a country were Water is so rare

• Will damage fish stock

• Will cause enormous environmental impact

• Will cause large destruction of nature by building road construction grids

• Will violate human rights, UNDRIP, FPIC, ILO Nr 169

• Will harm tourism long-term

Solar Energy

• Take up only 900 ha for the same output (1.7 TWh per year)

• Cost 15 bn without storage for the same output (without storage)

• Storage for Solar becomes more and more available with new technologies and would cost together with solar roughly then the same as Baines

• Solar could be built where the need for power is and not in the most remote corner of the country with all the losses involved

• Solar could start right now and would be built as appropriate installments; no need to pre-finance in one go!!

• Solar would really be NAM’s own indigenous energy solution

• Solar investments will attract all the money in the world, hydro investments for Kaoko will not.

• Solar would means appropriate power for the Himba’s own use for energy and water pumping etc.

• Solar will give the people modern energy AND much more time to adapt!

• Would make Namibia stand out for it’s green, environmental and human rights friendly energy approach

• Would make sense in such a hot, sunny country

• Would get more funds from international sources to implement green energy as well as for Climate Change adaptation and mitigation measures

• Would be longer lasting, as Climate Reports estimate the increasing reduction of waters in Kunene

• Solar would be supported by the worlds’ tourists, the public is aware about the damages of dams

• Could be negotiated with the Himba people, and places for grids could be agreed upon

• Solar would be good for the Climate, Namibia’s Nature, Cunene River, and good for Namibia’s people

What the hydro people at NamPower and the Governments have not yet fully acknowledged: Solar Panels only cost 25% of what they were in 1995 during the Epupa Dam Debate

Indigenous peoples Himba and Zemba protest spills over in Namibia

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

By Rebecca Sommer

Today, hundreds of semi-nomadic  Himba and Zemba marched again in protest because of Namibia’s human rights violantions against them, this time in Opuwo.

Zemba + Himba protest march in Opuwo December 5, 2012 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Zemba + Himba protest march in Opuwo December 5, 2012 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Opuwo, a small town located in the heart of the “Kaokoland” (that has always been occupied for centuries by the semi-nomadic Himba people) is the highlight for Tourist’s that are traveling in the North of Namibia.

Zemba + Himba protest march in Opuwo December 5, 2012 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Zemba + Himba protest march in Opuwo December 5, 2012 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Even so the Himba are known to roam with their goats, sheep and cattle, herding them from one grazing area to the next, there are still those that live a nomadic life as hunters and gatherer’s. But most of the small groups have been forcefully settled by the Government, with stories of them enduring hunger and bribery that can be watched in a video interview (translated by Himba volunteers) on my “sommerfilms” youtube account about Himba.

Zemba + Himba protest march in Opuwo December 5, 2012 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Zemba + Himba protest march in Opuwo December 5, 2012 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

The indigenous people Zemba, whose ancestors received up to 200 years ago the permission from certain Himba chiefs to settle on Himba land ( the formerly known Kaokoland) protested jointly with the Himba in Opuwo. It is very likely that such permissions for the Zemba to settle on Himba land goes further back in history. Therefore, in several areas occupied by Himba, one finds nearby, kind of together, Zemba groups that live there as well. The Zemba themselves claim the territory around Ruacana. The borders of Zemba land are confirmed by the neigbour tribe, the Himba people. But to the major grievance of the Zemba people, they are not recognized to be legitimate Namibian citizens, instead, the Government claims that they are from Angola, and not from Namibia.

The author of this article interviewed for several months Zemba Elders, and Himba Elders. They could trace back Zemba occupation nearby Opuwo in Himba communities as far as 150 years ago. Oral history is a legitimate tool to evaluate what the very people say has happened in the past with no written records. To this day, most Himba and Zemba do not read or write. But they do preserve their historical information and traditional knowledge that is important to them – by teaching and forwarding to the next generations.

Namibia is doing a mistake by marginalizing the Zemba, and intimidating everyone that tries to speak on their behalf. Indigenous peoples often live between borders, so do the Himba and the Zemba people. The reason why there is a specific article in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), that specifically explains that Indigenous Peoples cannot be separated by borders.

Zemba + Himba protest march in Opuwo December 5, 2012 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Zemba + Himba protest march in Opuwo December 5, 2012 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Zemba and Hima alike have many similar grievances, and feel that their voices are not being heard at Namibia’s headquarters, and by the party SWAPO which is comprised of the ethnic majority Owambo, a non-nomadic tribe.

One of the grievances alike is that the Himba and Zemba have a traditional governance system since time immemorial. But Namibia, since Independence, refuses to accept the traditional chiefs of both tribes as legally recognized tribal authorities, which bring enormous hardships and injustice to the Himba and Zemba people.

Another point of outrage by Himba and Zemba is the school system in their territories, which doesn’t allow the tribal children to attend school in their traditional cultural attire.

The Himba boys show their status and their tribal identity by having specific hairstyles according to their age, for example, a long pointed hair tail,  but in order to go to school, they must cut their hairdo’s off. The Himba girls have also special hair-do’s, that must go, in order for them to be allowed to enter school. That is also the case with the traditional female Himba attire, the orange-reddisch natural pigment ocre used to cover the entire body and hair, the body paint must go as well, if a girl wants to enter a school building. Away from that they can’t go topless, they must wear a

Zemba at Indigenous Peoples protest march in Opuwo (Photo©Earth Peoples)

Zemba at Indigenous Peoples protest march in Opuwo (Photo©Earth Peoples)

school uniform that reminds one of these old style british school uniforms. Most Himba parents and their children don’t want that. This is one of the many reasons why the Himba and Zemba are protesting. Even so many want their children to be educated, they also say that the educational system in their region is so bad, that the children learn nearly nothing. They also say that school is too expensive for the parents to pay for, school uniform and shoes would cost too much. There is also the need for mobile schools, as the children must follow their semi-nomadic parents, that follow the needs of their herds for good pasture.

Zemba + Himba protest march in Opuwo December 5, 2012 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Zemba + Himba protest march in Opuwo December 5, 2012 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

The Himba and Zemba also protest against the dam in Orokawe, that the Government of Namibia announced to be determined to built. Both tribes say that they haven’t been consulted, and they do not want the dam.

The Indigenous Peoples that protested today asked the World and Namibian’s to read their three Declarations, that have been submitted to the United Nations by Earth Peoples, and once again during the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that visited Namibia 2 months ago. The protesters handed their three Declarations and a Petition addressed to the President of Namibia to Opuwo’s governmental authorities, and requested that the documents are forwarded to him directly.

Himba+Zemba protesters handing Petition and declaration to governmental authorities Opuwo

Himba+Zemba protesters handing Petition and declaration to governmental authorities Opuwo

The NBC, Namibia’s Broadcasting Company refused again to report about the protest march, and therefore refused to inform the Namibian public about Namibia’s minority grievances. It seems that enough interesting things are happening in this small country, so that a protest by a small minority is not worthwhile the news.  One wonders, is this Government as democratic as Tourists are made belief?

To view photos and the petition from the protesting Himba and Zemba addressed to the President of Namibia: click here

UN Special Rapporteur visits Namibia – Meeting with Himba, Zemba, Twa and other Indigenous Peoples

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

By Rebecca Sommer

I went from December to March 2012 to Namibia, to investigate and to document in written and in video format the human rights violations conducted by the government of Namibia against it’s indigenous peoples.

Himba Women sitting behind the Himba men, at the human rights meeting about the proposed Baynes Site dam, in Orokawe (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Himba Women sitting behind the Himba men, at the human rights meeting about the proposed Baynes Site dam, in Orokawe (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Even so I planned an entire country visit, I remained in Kaokoland, the territory of the semi-nomadic Himba (and Zemba), where I stayed in numerous villages, and held countless regional human rights meetings, that resulted in  Himba and Zemba invitation letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples,  James Anaya, and three Human Rights complaint Declarations of the Himba and Zemba. (links to the Declarations below)

The invitation letter to James Anaya, and the three Declarations where submitted to the UN Human Rights mechanisms by Earth Peoples.

Therefore I am pleased that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya,  is now visiting Namibia from 20 to 28 September 2012, to examine the situation of indigenous peoples in that country. This is the first mission to Namibia by an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to report on the rights of the indigenous peoples.

“I will examine the situation of indigenous peoples in Namibia in, among others, the areas of lands and resources, development, and social and economic rights, in light of relevant international standards including those in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007 with an affirmative vote by Namibia,” he said.

The Special Rapporteur will carry out meetings with representatives of the Government of Namibia and with indigenous peoples and non-governmental organizations.

Click on the LINKS below:

DECLARATION BY THE TRADITIONAL HIMBA LEADERS OF KAOKOLAND IN NAMIBIA

DECLARATION OF THE MOST DIRECTLY AFFECTED OVAHIMBA, OVATWA, OVATJIMBA AND OVAZEMBA AGAINST THE OROKAWE DAM IN THE BAYNES MOUNTAIN

DECLARATION BY THE ZEMBA PEOPLE OF NAMIBIA

Himba leader’s INVITATION LETTER to the Special Rapporteur on the rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples

PHOTOS of Himba and Zemba human rights meetings

VIDEOS of Himba indigenous peoples

Himba woman during Earth Peoples human rights training (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

Himba woman during Earth Peoples human rights training (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

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EARTH PEOPLES note: read James Anaya’s statement
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