Andrew Kathindi

Namibians on Friday morning woke up to the news of the passing of Paramount Chief (PC) of the Ovaherero, Vekuii Rukoro.

This is two days after Secretary General of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA), Mutjinde Katjiua, confirmed that Rukoro had tested positive for COVID-19 but was in good spirits and responding well to medication. The PC’s wife, Dina Rukoro, arrived earlier on Friday morning in the country from the United States of America (USA), where she works.

“President Hage G. Geingob extends deepest sympathies to the bereaved wife, Mrs. Dinah Jorokee Rukoro, the children, entire family, Ovaherero Traditional Authority, the Ovaherero people and the nation at large, on the loss of Ombara Otjitambi Rukoro,” a statement released by the Office of the President read.

“Adv. Rukoro was a sentinel leader who predicated his life to the Cause of justice for the Ovaherero people. His death is a great loss at this watershed moment in our country’s history.”

President Geingob conferred a state funeral to Rukoro.

“We share with the Ovaherero people, the sorrow of losing a leader at this time and moment of the struggle that he was waging together with us, against the forces that have turned their apparatus of systematic prostration toward these two Nations of our Mother Land,” said Goab Johannes Isaack of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA).

Rukoro and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) shared a close kinship as they sought recompense from USA courts for the genocide committed by Germany against the Ovaherero and Nama between 1904 and 1908. “I am struck dumb by the loss of this great leader, with whom I and all the Nama leaders and technical team shared a table only last Saturday, and who was crystally concise in approach to the case of genocide,” says Isaack.

“In the brief span of time of leadership at the helm of the Ovaherero nation, he garnered considerable fellowship around the Ovaherero Royal Crown, which is something admirable to all people who were engaging with him.”

Rukoro along with the NTLA recently rejected the deal between the Namibian and Germany governments purported to atone for the genocide committed by the German colonial authorities against the Ovaherero and Nama. The two affected communities conceded their pursuit in the USA courts and were planning to approach the United Nations and African Union.

“I want to remind you that now is the time that we must stand firm in our resolve to fight until the end of days. There is no turning back. There never will be until justice is done,” says Isaack.

“Do not be disheartened. Ombara Otjitambi has fulfilled his final task.”

Rukoro was born in 1954 and died aged 66. He served as the first black Attorney General of an independent Namibia from 1995 – 2000 and succeeded Attorney-General Ruppel Hartmut Ruppel as the second AG.

“A perspicacious leader, with adroit leadership abilities, Namibia has indeed lost a political stalwart, unrivalled businessman and above all, a voice of the Ovaherero people. His departure leaves a great void in the Ovaherero community,” leader of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), McHenry Venaani, says.

Venaani adds that it would be Rukoro’s charge in seeking a respectable deal for the descendants of the genocide of 1904-1908 for which he will be best remembered. This comes as the late Rukoro had opposed the 1.3 billion euros (in projects over 30 years) deal that the Namibian government and Germany had struck as payment for the genocide, which he had called an insult.

“The late PC will be remembered as a gallant son of the soil who, until his last breath, relentlessly and selflessly fought for the restitution of the descendants of victims of genocide,” a statement by the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) Spokesperson, Eneas Emvula, reads.