Baherero want to relocate back to Namibia


Gaborone – The Baherero community in Botswana has written a letter to the Botswana government requesting permission to relocate to Namibia.

The advisor to the Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange is quoted as saying that, “We have advised the Ovaherero groups, as we still do now, to go back as no one will deal with them directly and individually.

“We have listened to their grievances and understood it but they should understand that they are still Botswana citizens, according to the law, and we cannot be seen to be dealing with them behind backdoors.”

Referring to the Baherero in Botswana, the minister’s special advisor said: “Those categories of people are now still in possession of the citizenship of Botswana and yet they are, by all intents and purposes, citizens of Namibia.

“Such people are now faced with a dilemma because they cannot easily get the documents of Namibia as was the case back then. This situation is in part caused by some unreasonable and difficult, if not legally unsound demands and prerequisites, set in place by some of our ministries.”

Tjiriange said that the Baherero in Botswana told him that they want to repatriate to their ancestral land.

“We cannot assist them now because they are still under the jurisdiction of Botswana and we respect the Botswana government because they have been good to them and us as a country, hence we will follow due processes in assisting these people,” he said.

The Baherero community originates from Namibia but sought refuge in Botswana at the turn of 20th century following the bitter and bloody war of resistance against the German imperialists that confiscated their land to give to German settlers.

The German policy back then was that the population should simply be wiped out in order to make room for settlers.

Thus, the indigenous people lost their land, their freedom and self-determination, along with their personal dignity.

They were forced out of their country by the heavily increased presence of the German troops. Many of those fleeing ended up in Botswana, due to the displacements and went on to assume citizenship.

Back then, a special arrangement between Botswana and Namibia was made for those people to go back to Namibia although that arrangement had its own shortcomings and it was sometimes not legally perfect and correct.

Those who were allowed by the laws of Botswana to renounce their citizenship of that country and formalise the Namibian citizenship were accordingly advised to do so and many followed suit.

Their children, however, were young at the time and could not renounce the citizenship of Botswana due to legal barriers.

The young generation want to emulate their predecessors, who in 1993, resettled in Namibia in areas of in Gam and Eiseb in Namibia.

A tribal leader from Nokaneng village in the Ngamiland District where the Baherero community resides in large numbers, Kebonyetsala Fish confirmed that Baherero have indicated in the meetings that they want to relocate with their livestock to Namibia.

He said if Baherero were to be repatriated this would have adverse effects on the population of the area. 

The district leadership is expected to advise government on the matter after meeting all those concerned.

November 2013
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