Wants Answers on ‘Invasion by Kwanyamas’


With all protocol observed, I wish to voice my unhappiness over the invasion of our large parts of Uukwambi and Ondonga by the Kwanyamas who fled to the former Owambo from Angola during the Mandume/Portugese war. As a common practice among many Africans, these refugees were given a small area by the kings of Uukwambi and Ondonga where they could live while fighting. To our surprise, these refugees continued to flee their country more especially in 1974/5 during the Fapla/Portuguese/Unita war which led to Angola’s independence in 1975. Again, when war erupted between Fapla and Unita immediately after Angola’s independence, Kwanyamas had no other option than coming to Owamboland. After all these wars ended, none of these refugees ever went back to their country. I do not really have a problem with any refugees coming into our areas and even becoming citizens, but I am more concerned about parts of our homelands (Uukwambi and Ondonga) where these people were settled and those they occupy on their own, becoming their homeland (Oukwanyama) today. They have even inaugurated their king in our lands. Is this in line with traditional laws? Why is this being allowed by the Ondonga and Uukwambi traditional authorities? Why are our leaders quiet about this invasion? We, the owners of the two homelands, deserve answers as to why such things are happening without our consent and or consultation. For us it is like giving someone in need one of the rooms in your house to sleep in, and all of a sudden that person claiming the room to be his/her own house. Does it make sense? This is exactly what happened with these Angolan refugees. The areas that were given to these refugees are still known, but they continued to occupy our large areas illegally. Why do the Kwanyama behave like this? Why are the Uukwambis and Ondongas not talking about this very serious issue openly? Don’t you think that it is because of our reluctance and silence that these people are continuing taking over our traditional areas? Don’t you notice that they have gone to the extent of renaming many of our districts while we, the Ndongas and Kwambis ignore this ungrateful attitude and pretend it is not happening? Namibia had some Ovaherero who fled their land into Botswana because of the war between their community and the colonial Germans in 1904. Similarly, many Namibians left this country to fight the apartheid system that led to Namibia’s independence in 1990. These refugees came back home as returnees because there was peace in their country. Why could the Kwanyamas also not go back where they came from? Why do the traditional leaders of Uukwambi and Ondonga permit them to rename our areas as if this were their own land? I really want our traditional leaders to remind all the Kwanyamas that those are our areas/lands and there was never ever Oukwanyama within Ondonga and Uukwambi. When Namibians were in exile in other countries all over the world, we never heard of areas called ‘Namibia’ in those countries. This is indeed so because the fact that Namibians were given refuge in countries (such as Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, etc) did, by no means, mean that they became owners of those places of asylum. Similarly, we did not hear of an area called Hereroland in Botswana because they were given refuge in those areas. Why do Kwanyamas have to take over our traditional lands, rename and make them theirs? They did not come with land in our territory therefore it is unlawful and unacceptable for them to rename our land to ‘Oukwanyama’ because Oukwanyama is in Angola and not in Namibia. If this is the way to go about things, then we should as well call the Osire refugee camp as DRC/Angola/Burundi, etc. The other disturbing issue that I would like to mention is the renaming of certain areas, namely, ‘Ongwedhiya’ now called ‘Ongwediva’, Onamutuni now called ‘Oshivelo’ instead of ‘Osheelo’. Very soon Omuthiyagwiipundi will be called Omufiyawoipundi as I hear it already on the radio. Recently they were fighting for the Ekoka village. Which other one will be next? For how long are we letting these people to behave like this in our traditional lands? Can our traditional leaders please tell us what is going on and for how long will this go on like this? I would also like to request our traditional leaders of Ondonga and Uukwambi to restore the original names for all the places starting from the Angolan border inwards, because we would like our traditional areas to be called by their original, traditional names, and not foreign names. As I mentioned earlier, we do not have problems with Kwanyamas living in our areas, but we have a serious problem when they softly and silently rename and inaugurate their kings within our kingdoms. I wish to remind all the Oshiwambo communities that history never dies: therefore they should not think that we do not know or see what they are doing to us. It is a matter of time. Any Ndonga and or Kwambi who is afraid, ignorant or shy to speak out about this issue is making a very big mistake! According to our tradition, our lands have been invaded! For the sake of our future generations, this issue must be addressed urgently. I would also like to use this opportunity to remind all Oshiwambo speaking people in Namibia to remain united as we had been and keep our traditions and cultures of respecting our elderly people. As you know it is taboo for someone in our culture to insult senior persons like our Founding President, The Father of the Nation, Dr Sam Nujoma. I would be pleased if ONLY our two Traditional Authorities could respond to this letter. A concerned Ndonga/Kwambi Hilaria Iiyambo WINDHOEK