The Old Location is being romanticized by many people, but it was still a colonial settlement for our people who had been uprooted from their ancestral land. About five decades before this fateful day, our people had suffered one of the most atrocious crimes against humanity in the form of genocide by the German colonial criminal gangs. Yes, the memories of the rivers of blood that flowed from 1904 to 1908 were still fresh in the minds of our people as they set out to defy the forced removal order.
The colonial spin doctors of the day were selling the re-location in a positive light, on the basis that the new houses were made from cement bricks unlike those in the old location made from corrugated iron sheets. There were flushing toilets as well. There were better buildings for schools and clinics. Thus, in the eyes of the colonial masters, the natives had no reason to refuse to move. How could the natives fight to stay in filthy conditions?
Our people were asking a fundamental question: why are we not allowed to settle where we want anywhere in the land of our birth? Every time they laid their hats to call it home, the colonizers came with guns and bulldozers and moved our people against their will. That is why they were asking: Hapo katutura uri? Tjituahara okutura tjandje tueeku isapeua. Why aren’t we allowed to settle down? As soon as we start to settle, we are removed forcefully. That is where the name Katutura came from.
The name Katutura has been inaccurately translated as meaning “we won’t move or we won’t live there”, but I have attempted to sketch the context accurately above. The name Katutura has a deeper meaning that is rooted in the anti-colonial struggle of our people. It is about self-definition, self-affirmation and self-sufficiency. It is about claiming back what rightfully belongs to you. It is about defining your boundaries and those of your oppressors. It is about saying that we shall fight for our rights by any means necessary.
It is about saying that we shall die fighting for the land of our forefathers and foremothers. It is about saying that we shall fight for Namibia and even death will not do us part.
The question that was asked way back in 1959 is still relevant today. We are still vagrants in the land of our birth despite the advent of independence.
As was stated by the great Pan Africanists like Nkrumah, Nyerere and Mugabe, to mention but three, true freedom must go beyond flag independence. True independence should be about putting the wealth of the nation back in the hands of its people. True independence is diametrically opposed to the neo-colonial and neo-liberal agendas of allowing multinationals to willy-nilly exploit our human and natural resources. True independence is about bringing the land back to its true historical owners.
Our neighbour to the east, Zimbabwe, has taken the bold revolutionary step to restore the wealth to its citizens by re-possessing the land and by enforcing the indigenisation of foreign owned companies. That is what the struggle should be about. That is what revolutionaries should be unwaveringly fighting about despite the opposition from the forces of reaction. Comrade President Mugabe has shown us that it can be done, not necessarily in identical ways, but in ways that are unique to each struggle. After trying to behave reasonably by listening to the “rule of law” mumbo-jumbo, Zimbabweans decided that the time was ripe to fulfil the mission of history. The time was ripe for them to say “Keep your pink Britain; we shall keep our green Zimbabwe”.
The ultimate objective of any revolution that is worth its salt is to put bread and meat in each mouth, to give a piece of land (in various shapes and sizes) to each citizen, to put a roof over the head of each citizen, to ensure the health of each citizen, and to send every child to school. This is of course a simplified freedom manifesto, but it captures the essentials of what the struggle should be all about.
The struggle should not be de-mobilised at independence; it must continue until final victory is achieved.
Thus, as we remember 10 December 1959, we should ask whether we have now reached a stage where we can settle in our own country. Hapo tuaturanaimehiretu?Matutura rune? Have we now settled in our own country? When are we going to settle? Obviously, we shall have to define what we have to achieve in order to declare that we have indeed settled in our country. I have stated above what I think are the minimum requirements for freedom and independence.
To be fair, our government is making strides in the right direction, but can we rightfully say that we have now settled? I have stated umpteen times that what is critical for me is the “L” word – Land! Some of us grabbed the opportunity to re-possess a piece of Namibia by buying commercial farms through Agribank.
Others have gone the re-settlement route. Irrespective of the route taken to claim back a piece of Namibian land, I can tell you now that it is a mammoth struggle. It is painful to seeNamibians losing their land when their farms are repossessed because of debts.
Others are pro-actively selling their farms before the default judgements arrive – you know the proverbial jumping off the cliff before being pushed down.
We should therefore use the memories 10 December 1959 to take a vow that no one should push us around anymore.
No more. Matuturamehiretu. We shall settle on our land.