Indige­nous peo­ple seek recog­ni­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - NOR­MAN CLOETE

INDIGE­NOUS rights or­gan­i­sa­tions used Youth Day to draw at­ten­tion to their plight, say­ing they do not en­joy the recog­ni­tion they de­serve.

The Indige­nous Peo­ple of Bi­afra (Ipob) and the Khoisan Re­flec­tion Pro­gramme held an event at the Grand Pa­rade yes­ter­day. It show­cased Khomani San dances from the Kala­hari, as well as mu­sic and acts from var­i­ous cul­ture groups.

Ipod co-or­di­na­tor In­no­cent Alia said 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple died in the Nige­rian Civil War, bet­ter known as the Bi­afran War, from 1967 to 1970.

Bi­afra, of­fi­cially the Repub­lic of Bi­afra, was a se­ces­sion­ist state in Nige­ria that ex­isted from May 1967 to Jan­uary 1970. The se­ces­sion of the Bi­afran re­gion had been the main rea­son for the war.

Alia ques­tioned his­tory be­ing taught in schools about the indige­nous groups in Africa, and ac­cused the me­dia of shy­ing away from their strug­gles.

He said po­lit­i­cal struc­tures and schools do not pro­mote the in­ter­est of indige­nous peo­ple: “We are a peo­ple who don’t know our­selves.”

He said Ipob leader Nnamdi Kanu had been jailed in Nige­ria in Oc­to­ber 2015 and only re­leased in April.

The or­gan­i­sa­tions will hold sim­i­lar events across the coun­try, to keep the spot­light on the plight of the Bi­afran peo­ple, Alia added.

Eibib Koop­man, the di­rec­tor of the Khoisan Re­flec­tion Pro­gramme, said indige­nous peo­ple were strug­gling for recog­ni­tion.

“We would not need a day like this if we had the recog­ni­tion we de­served and de­sired,” he added.

Koop­man said indige­nous peo­ple’s strug­gle for iden­tity, free­dom, land and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion con­tin­ued, adding that they hoped yes­ter­day’s event would raise aware­ness on the im­por­tance of her­itage, es­pe­cially among the coun­try’s youth.

“Very of­ten the young peo­ple are ashamed of their his­tory and we need to change this,” he said.

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