“Many more…many more…many more…”
The woman reading the list of our dead says it like a chant.
She says it like an echo shuddering through the black and cavernous hole that has settled in the pit of the marchers’ being as we gather in the dust outside Katutura Police Station to make some recommendations on how, perhaps, to save our lives.
Below the warm Namibian sun it seems they have become cheap.
Dime a dozen, inessential existences we have found raped and murdered on a footpath in Grootfontein, gang raped and killed in Okahandja, mutilated and strangled in Otjiwarongo, violated and slaughtered in Tsumeb on New Year’s Day.
New year, same story.
The woman’s voice catches as she chokes on the library of crimes.
There are “many more, many more, many more…”
In Lesotho, South Africa and Botswana, the women and the gender non-conforming are doing the same.
Gathering, marching, aching with the knowledge that it seems we are expendable.
We call our stand the Total Shutdown: Intersectional Women’s March Against Gender-Based Violence and, in Namibia, the marchers have come with a plan.
A memorandum of recommendation for the Namibian Police, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, institutions who will make all the difference to our survival, our safety, our healing, our justice and our ability to steer clear of those who have committed crimes against our women and gender non-conforming before.
No justice. No peace.
Amongst us, standing close to the women they came with, there is a scattering of men.
Less perhaps than you can count on two hands but steadfast and conspicuous in there grim-faced allyship.
One stands silent and resolute holding a sign remembering 22 year old Martha Afrikaner. A Namibian woman hacked to death with an axe by her boyfriend at Farm Dabis in October last year. Another edges in to stand beside formidable matriarch Rosa Namises and tells the story of his four year old granddaughter, periodically raped by her uncle since she was 1 year and 9 months old.
The man who raped her is close.
Mere metres away and listening, perhaps, as he languishes in Katutura Police Station.
“Today I am here as a Namibian man to stand up in solidarity of all the women. To tell you that we will fight together,” he says earnestly but woefully alone.
We are happy to have him.
But he will need to bring legions.
A relentless horde of Namibian men who will take it upon themselves to do better. Men who will teach their sons, raise powerful daughters and be completely intolerant of the idea that women, girls and gender non-conforming people deserve anything less than dignity, freedom, peace and the opportunity to see life to its natural end…unbattered and unbruised.
Though the man never mentions it, mentally, we add his granddaughter’s name to the list of women who have been violated as we chant, march, hold their names high and continue to count our dead…
Anastacia van Wyk
Annalise Tuunane Ndakongele
Bendeka Hanna Rauha
Cecilia Kambuu Kuaseua
Coleen Melanie Uiras
Elizabeth Claudia Guim
Frieda Julien Kahuika
Heneliate Mwetiteya Shikongo
Iyaloo Ndapandula Hainghumbi
Jeanet Tatamigu !Haoses
Johanna Hishinawa Angula
Katalina Shisheni Shiiyele
Magdalena Sussana Kooper
Maria Megameno Kamati
Mutero Alexius Vipanda
Pamela Florida Britz
Renelda Alien Oamite Hoeses
Sara van der Westhuizen
Sarah Kauna Shimuni
There are “many more…many more…many more…”