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Jahohora and First Day

At the momentous occasion of the launch of the first-ever book written in Otjiherero, German and English, Vekuii Rukoro, Paramount Chief of the OvaHerero, (left) and German Ambassador Onno Hückmann joined the publisher Bryony van der Merwe (centre left) and members of the OvaHerero community in celebration.Following the success of Mama Namibia, author Mari Serebrov, adoptive daughter of the late Herero Paramount Chief Kuiama Riruako, has written a children’s story based on Herero culture. Titled Jahohora and First Day and written in Otjiherero, German and English, the book was launched last week at the Goethe Centre in Windhoek.

The German Embassy paid for the printing. “As I was writing the first part of Mama Namibia, I thought that some of the scenes with Jahohora would make good children’s books. When I mentioned the idea to Tate, the late Chief Riruako, he urged me to do a children’s series to celebrate traditional Herero culture prior to the genocide. This book could not have been written without his encouragement and the help of my cousins, Dr. Hoze Riruako and Belinda Veii Riruako,” said author Serebrov. Following the launch of Mama Namibia in 2013, the late Chief Riruako named Mari Serebrov the literary laureate of the Herero.This book is published by Wordweaver Publishing House, as part of their commitment to publish children’s books in local languages, and by doing so, opening the world of reading to new generations. At the launch, German Ambassador Onno Hückmann emphasized the importance of a reading culture saying “thanks to this book, many children form all backgrounds will have access to this story from traditional Herero culture.” The book is illustrated by Romeo Sinkala. “I can’t say enough about Romeo’s illustrations. He did a fantastic job of bringing the story to life. When I first saw his work, I knew he was the one to illustrate the series” said an elated Serebrov. Dr. Hoze Riruako, nephew of the late Paramount Chief, called on Germany and Namibia to “forget the bitterness and plant the seed of reconciliation […] with writings like “Jahohora and First Day”, “Mama Namibia” and many others. We should try and plant the first seed of peace and loving, and better understanding between all people.” I want to see a culture, a future, where both, the German children and the Herero children, the Nama children and everybody else, hold each other as brothers and sisters in the arms, as the great Martin Luther King once said.” The book is available at book stores or directly from Wordweaver.

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