Feb 11, 2008

TV-program shows dire situation of the Rehoboth Basters

The Rehoboth Basters are prominently featured in a Dutch TV documentary that tries to find out what has become of Namibia since its independence in 1990

On Sunday evening 10 February 2008, a documentary was aired on Dutch television focusing on the political situation in Namibia. The Rehoboth Basters were prominently present in this 50 minute program.

In his tour of Southern Africa, Dutch writer and media personality Adriaan van Dis, made a program about the political history and future of Namibia. He takes the viewers on a journey to find out what has become of Namibia since it became independent in 1990.

In 2008, Namibia is in crisis. Poverty is widespread and political instability is growing in this once stable land. Democratic debate is muffled by an unwillingness to come to grips with the realities of past actions and the fear of losing current privileges.

The former white rulers still have a strong impact on the economy and the former rebel-leaders of the current ruling party SWAPO have become less open to criticism. Besides that, they all have skeletons in their closets.

Many crimes were committed by the white Apartheid regime against the people of Namibia, without anyone being held accountable. In the 1970’s and 80’s the resistance movement SWAPO also suffered serious infighting and crimes against their own people and comrades. None of these issues were dealt with.

The show asked the question whether Namibia would benefit from a Truth and Reconciliation commission, comparable to the one in South Africa.

The overall atmosphere of the TV-program pointed in the direction that the people in power, be it the former white rulers, or the former rebel group leaders, all have an interest in ignoring the injustices of the past. However, ignoring those injustices of the past creates injustices today and will be a festering wound in the future.

One of the peoples that suffered greatly under Apartheid and continue to suffer today are the Rehoboth Basters. They suffered many injustices during the times of Apartheid when most of their rights were ignored and parts of their lands were expropriated. Unfortunately, after the end of Apartheid, the injustices did not stop. On the contrary, they continued under a different header. The remainders of the ancestral lands of the Basters were expropriated in the early 1990’s, which left them impoverished. They feel that under white domination, the Basters were seen as too ‘black’ and under the new black dominated government of Namibia, seen as too ‘white’ to the rulers’ liking. This leaves the Basters once again victims of a political situation not of their making and beyond their control.

The Baster people have put their faith in God and in their elected traditional leader, Kaptein John McNab.

Part of the TV program can be seen at: http://www.vpro.nl/programma/vandisinafrika/

More on the Rehoboth Basters: http://www.rehobothbasters.org/