By Timoteus Mashuna
A statement by President Hifikepunye Pohamba delivered at the funeral of the late Chief Alfons Kaihepovazandu Maharero acclaims that throughout Alfons’s tenure as chief of the Maharero Traditional Authority, he earned himself a reputation as a respected traditional leader who contributed enormously to the development of his community and the Namibian nation at large.
Alfons Maharero is noted to have originated from the Otjinene settlement in the present day Omaheke Region. His father was Edward Maripeuani Maharero, the younger brother of the then Herero Paramount Chief Samuel Maharero. Although not so much is so far published with regard to his early childhood, Alfons began to play an active role in Namibia’s socio-economic and political development after his coronation as Chief of the Otjika-Tjamuaha Royal House in 1970.
Since becoming chief, he stood up against the oppression of his people by the apartheid regime and established himself as an illustrious advocate of unity and nation-building.
In appreciation of Alfons as chief of the Maharero Traditional Authority, the statement by his Excellency reads that Alfons “will always be remembered as a man who did not retreat, even at the height of intimidation and threats directed to his own life, his family and to other members of his community.
“He proved himself a reliable and decisive traditional leader who brought to bear the power of his position as Chief to promote unity, mutual respect and peaceful co-existence among his people. Therefore, his outstanding leadership and his commitment to the principle of fairness leave an enduring legacy that will be remembered by current and future generations.”
Alfons was indeed a unifying figure and has on a number of occasions called for unity among the Herero people. In 2005, whilst addressing his community in Okahandja during the commemoration of the life of Samuel Maharero, he reminded his community that it was because of unity that Herero leaders and their people were able to repatriate the remains of his grandfather Samuel Maharero.
He said “these efforts were done because of the oneness of the Ovaherero people that prevailed during that time. I wish this spirit of oneness will prevail among the Ovaherero people for many generations to come.”
Notwithstanding Alfons’s remarkable desire for unity as leader of the Maharero Traditional Authority, he also demonstrated his reconciliatory nature in dealing with the Genocide issue. Even though he hails from one of the communities that suffered the onslaught of Lothar Von Throtha’s Extermination Order leading to the War of Genocide, he was still prepared to welcome the family of the General who exterminated his people through the infamous Genocide.
To demonstrate the conciliatory nature of Chief Alfons, biographical sources on his life cite that it was at his invitation that the descendants of Von Trotha’s family travelled to Omaruru in 2007 and publicly apologised for the historic misdeeds of their forebear General Lothar Von Throtha.
Chief Alfons died at the age of 74 in 2012 in the Windhoek Central Hospital. He is survived by his wife Anastancia Mavetjituavi Maharero and 16 children.