Herero Unite to Mourn Chief

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By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK A multitude of people is expected to gather at Okakarara today for ceremonies leading to the funeral of recently deceased Herero Chief of the Otjozondjupa region David Tuvahi Kambazembi. Several local dignitaries, as well as VIPs from neighbouring South Africa, are expected to be present. Indications are that the Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Kazenambo Kazenambo, will be the official representative of the Namibian government. Governor Theo Eiseb and Councillor Veparuhe Kandorozu will represent the Otjozondjupa Regional Council. The town of Lephalale in Limpopo province, RSA, where Chief Kambazembi met his untimely death will send a four-person delegation to attend the funeral. Led by Mayor Ntie Rosina Mogotlane, the delegation includes three city councillors. There appears to have been a concerted effort to set aside the political divisions that have driven a wedge between the Herero people in recent years. The list of speakers at the funeral ceremonies includes chiefs and other leaders from a broad political spectrum. This includes both chiefs recognised by the Government, and unrecognised chiefs. The proceedings commence at 14h00 today, but the funeral itself is only planned to take place at 14h00 tomorrow. Several myths have been associated with funerals at the Kambazembi burial place at Waterberg Mountain. One of them is that women are not allowed to be present at funerals there. This is a mistaken belief, according to one authority on traditional matters. He pointed out that there are pictures showing women present at the funeral of Chief Salatiel Kambazembi in 1941. Salatiel, the great-uncle of Chief Tuvahi Kambazembi, was the eldest son of the founder of the Kambazembi dynasty, Chief Kambazembi from his principal wife. Kambazembi died in 1903, a year before the Herero-German war. The cemetery of the Kambazembi chiefs is enclosed within the walls of the ruins of Kambazembi’s original stone house at Waterberg Mountain. The authority on traditional customs said the only prohibition is on women entering inside the walls of the cemetery. The original house – now the cemetery – is located at the place traditionally known as Otjozundjupa, “place of the calabash”. The place now of course gives its name to the entire region. Another common misconception is that the cemetery is a war cemetery. It is in fact only the burial place of the Kambazembi royal family. The confusion has probably arisen because of a nearby German war cemetery for German soldiers that died during the Herero-German war.