OTJIWARONGO: The police on Tuesday held a meeting with the two rival Herero groups that are set to attend the annual Red Flag Day commemoration at Okahandja this weekend.
Otjozondjupa Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Joseph Anghuwo told Nampa on Wednesday that he met representatives of the groups at the Police Headquarters in Windhoek earlier this week, to discuss security measures that would have to be put in place to avoid possible clashes.
“I met with the representatives of the two groups of OvaHerero in Windhoek on Monday and Tuesday, and we discussed some measures which they will have to apply to ensure that the commemoration of their Heroes’ Day will take place in a peaceful atmosphere,” he said.
The main disagreement between the two groups is the location of the holy fire at the Red Flag Commando Grounds in Okahandja, which a faction of the Herero community under the instruction of Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako allegedly relocated to a place where it now faces the sunset.
The Maharero Royal House, supported by members of the Technical Committee of the OvaHerero/OvaMbanderu Council on the 1904 Genocide (OCD-1904), insists that the holy fire should face the sunrise (east), as it has done for the 88 years.
Anghuwo told Nampa that he has commanded leaders of the two feuding factions to tell their people to behave and to maintain peace and stability.
“I told them that I will be there with my police officers, and we are prepared to deal with any person who will go there to disturb the peace of the country. The leader of any group which causes havoc will be held accountable,” Anghuwo said.
At the meeting with the police, the Maharero Royal House was led by Phanuel Kaapama, a descendant of that clan, and he was accompanied by representatives from the Kambazembi, Mureti, Vita, Zeraeua and Nguvauva (Kilus Nguvauva) royal houses.
The other group was reportedly led by Dr Hoze Riruako, the advisor to the OvaHerero Traditional Authority (OTA).
According to Anghuwo, although the Police managed to bring together the two disputing groups, they somehow failed to resolve the quarrel about who would perform the traditional rituals.
“Each group said it will perform its traditional rituals from its own holy fire,” the police commissioner said.
This effectively means that the Maharero and the Riruako groups will both conduct their rituals at the same place (Red Flag Commando Grounds) at about the same time. The followers of the Maharero Royal House will camp on the eastern side of the Commando while the other group faces the west.
Hundreds of OvaHerero and OvaMbanderu people from all walks of life converge upon Okahandja in August each year for the Red Flag Commemoration, where they honour the dead chief and heroes/heroines.