'We have lost a father'

24 April 2019 | Cultural

Ovambanderu chief Kilus Nguvauva says the Council of Traditional Leaders has not only lost its founding chairperson Omukwaniilwa Immanuel Kauluma Elifas, but also its “father”.

King Elifas, who ruled over the Ondonga traditional community for over four decades, was elected as chairperson when the body was established in 1997.

Nguvauva's father, the late Chief Munjuku Nguvauva II, was King Elifas' deputy.

King Elifas was laid to rest this past Saturday, following his death on 26 March. He was 85.

He was the 18th king of Ondonga. His death has also brought back memories of the rich tapestry of history between the Ondonga and other traditional communities that dates back to the German genocide of 1904 to 1908 and beyond.

Ovaherero and Ovambanderu leaders, who spoke at his funeral, said the good relationship with the Ondonga traditional community did not start with King Elifas.

They said when German general Lothar von Trotha issued extermination orders against the Nama and Ovaherero in 1904, assistance was sought from the Ondonga leaders of the time.

Chief Sam Kambazembi of the Kambazembi royal family said the relationship between tribes living in central Namibia and the people of northern Namibia started before the arrival of the colonisers.

He said during the reign of Ondonga king Nehale lya Mpingana from 1884 to 1908, his cattle used to graze together with those of the then Kambazembi traditional community chief at Oshivelo, and the two leaders were friends.

“After the arrival of the Germans, and during the exercising of the extermination orders by General Lothar von Trotha, our people at Waterberg separated into two groups. One group fled to the east into Botswana and the other group to the north. The group that fled to the north was settled in Ondonga by King Nehale,” Chief Kambazembi said.

“They were treated very well and given cattle posts around Ondonga. Only a few of them, after some years, proceeded into Angola and later on returned through Kaokoland. Those that stayed in the Ondonga traditional community enjoyed the comfort zone until they could not speak Otjiherero anymore.”

Nguvauva said the history between the Ovambanderu and Ondonga communities can be traced back to 1904, when his late grandfather Ferdinard Kovikuruha Nguvauva fled from Epukiro to Ondonga.

When his grandfather reached Ondonga, King Nehale provided him with a shelter and looked after him for about 20 years, Nguvauva said.

“Kovikuruha Nguvauva lived in peace among the Aandonga and only returned to Epukiro in the 1920s, where he reunited with the remaining Ovambanderu, who survived the German genocide.”

Chief Tjinaani Maharero of the Maharero Traditional Authority said certain of their cultural practices were contributed to by the Ondonga traditional community.

“In history, during an unknown year, King Nehale gave a big dog to Chief Tjamwaha. Until today that year is known as ombura jombua ja Nehale (the year of Nehale's dog). We recognise the Aandonga people as our close relatives. We must remain united and work together for common goals. Let us live by the principle tjitjatunu kumue, tjitutuna ete atuhe (what touches one, it touches us all),” said Chief Maharero.

He said in 1904, Chief Samuel Maharero wrote a letter to King Nehale, requesting him to send fighters to face the Germans.



Plea for unity

Chief Kambazembi said he is not happy with the level of unity, 29 years after independence.

“I can see there is a fear of the unknown among our people and that is because we cannot talk to each other in our own vernaculars, and we know little about each other's culture.

"I urge you my fellow traditional leaders that from now on start to invite each other to our cultural activities. We must also urge our people to attend the traditional cultural activities of others.

“To our government, we have a lot of Namcol centres around Namibia. Let us establish language centres there, so that retired teachers from other language groups can be employed and teach our people local vernaculars, so that we will be able to live as a united nation,” Kambazembi said.

ILENI NANDJATO

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