WINDHOEK: The Red Flag Commemoration event which was set to take place at Okahandja this weekend is likely to now be held in Windhoek next weekend.
Advisor to the Ovaherero Traditional Authority, Dr Hoze Riruako made this announcement at the Commando Hall in Katutura on Saturday.
Hundreds of people flocked to the hall, with women mostly clad in red, black or green traditional dresses, while some men and boys paraded there in the by now familiar military-style brown uniforms. Members of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) had cordoned off the street next to the hall.
“The commemoration will continue next weekend,” Riruako told the large, ardent audience.
Meanwhile, at the same occasion, patron of Commando Number One at Okahandja, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro called for financial contributions from group members as he said they will now approach the courts in their fight to go ahead with the commemoration event next week.
It was initially scheduled to take place at Okahandja in the Otjozondjupa Region this weekend.
The Namibian Police however intervened between the two rival OvaHerero factions which were set to attend the event after alleged threats of violence, and announced that the festivities had been cancelled.
This was the first time the event had been cancelled in the about 89 years it has been taking place.
Otjozondjupa Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Joseph Anghuwo confirmed to Nampa on Saturday that the faction under Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako approached the court for an interdict which would allow them to go ahead with the commemoration at the town on Friday, but it was declined.
“The law voted in our favour, it (interdict) was turned down,” Anghuwo noted.
Rukoro however expressed optimism that the ceremony will take place next weekend.
“We will go to court and we will win,” he stated.
NamPol on Thursday issued an urgent order calling off the event, citing security reasons.
The decision to call off the annual event follows a meeting last week Tuesday by the police with the two rival Herero groups that were set to attend the commemoration this weekend to discuss security measures that would have had to be put in place to avoid possible clashes.
The main disagreement between the two groups is the location of the holy fire at the Red Flag Commando Grounds in Okahandja, which the faction under the instruction of Paramount Chief 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).
On Thursday at around 13h00 the Commando grounds were already cordoned off with red tape and guarded by armed police officers who forbade people from entering the grounds.
Hundreds of OvaHerero and OvaMbanderu people from all walks of life were set to converge upon Okahandja for the Red Flag Commemoration, where they honour their dead chief and heroes/heroines.