Heed the call of Rukoro or perish

THE last words of legendary Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro ought to resonate across the country where the Covid-19 pandemic is wiping out our lives at an unprecedented rate, and not only Ovaherero.

Rukoro, one of the few politico-economic pillars of our country succumbed to Covid last week but not without leaving a critical message to his subjects – the Ovaherero tribe who, in his opinion – were the most fatal victims of the pandemic.

In his own words, shortly before he succumbed to the illness on his deathbed, Rukoro remarked: “Yesterday I heard that the ICUs around Namibia have 90 percent Ovaherero people. What does it mean? And people who die from this disease are mostly Hereros that we bury every weekend. Why? This is because of the way we behave, it’s because we don’t pay attention to how we are supposed to act and behave.

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“The one thing I want to remind you of is this disease that has come into our world. It’s finishing this nation, our nation is dying,” he noted.

The uncomfortable truth is that Namibians from all walks of life have little regard to the serious consequences of this pandemic – especially the fact that it is now attacking the most productive brains of our economy.

Rukoro, just like many other serious economic drivers of the economy whose lives have been claimed by this disease – was a great employer in his capacity as a successful farmer and businessman. His loss will culminate in severe job losses which will push those employees into abject poverty.

Another young dynamic economic giant who also perished due to the pandemic is 39-year-old Barnabas Uugwanga with a business empire covering mining, solar energy and geological engineering in Namibia, Botswana and Angola. In Namibia, the young entrepreneur at least employed more than 300 people. His loss will mean that the country has the potential of losing employment which fed more than 300 families.

The illness knows no class or economic barrier.

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Therefore, Rukoro’s caution should extend to all ethnic groups and more especially the youth, to respect measures devised by government to prevent this disease.

If we don’t want to let go of the way things were done in the past then we will allow this illness to decimate us from earth.

“Funerals, weddings and visiting each other’s homes are the three things that will kill.

“Meetings also. We need to fix ourselves in those areas. Corona is finishing people. It took teachers, pastors. It took the youth that is supposed to be leaders of tomorrow. It took traditional leaders. Knowledgeable youths are taken. Our Herero community is finishing. We go to funerals like flies going for rotten meat. We don’t protect ourselves, we don’t use masks. Let’s look for other ways, even use a tent where fresh air comes in and out….

“My people the funeral to go to must be that one that is on your lap. What will remain of our people if we can’t protect ourselves? We go in hundreds and then take back the virus where we are coming from. This is war…

“We are dying coz of the way we behave. Until when will we be like this my people? Meetings are now on the phone and if we meet face to face we protect ourselves… Even the gatherings like Okahandja will be skipped again this year so that we can protect our nation. Visiting each other must stop a little… Until this lion has passed.

“It’s not like we don’t like each other. This is war, real war!!! Hold until year end. We are begging you so that we can’t have a second mass killing- (sic)-after the genocide.”

If we don’t take heed of Rukoro’s words, Namibia will become a stateless nation.