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