Tribute to Late Chief David Tuvahi Kambazembi


My tribute to Honourable Chief David Tuvahi Kambazembi of the Kambazembi Royal House is in the form of attempting to highlight the role and mission of this great son of the soil. My interpretation is that the late Chief Kambazembi was not only a traditional leader with or on a mission, and who had fallen while on a historic mission, but he was also a tall tower, larger than life, a man who epitomized the heroic spirit of our patriotic resistance against the forces of colonialism. Chief Kambazembi was born in exile in Botswana, but he returned home to lead the Onguatjindu Royal House, and that was a great historical role he played with all the commitment and dignity it requires. He died while on a mission of trying to search and bring back home the remains of his grandfather who died in exile in South Africa. Therefore, this clearly shows that Chief Kambazembi was a man who was born with a mission, and had tirelessly contributed to that mission. He has contributed his part, and he left behind a legacy of good leadership to be emulated by all of us in dealing with the challenges of nation-building. He symbolized a link to our war of resistance, as a child of those Namibians who fled to Botswana during the Ovaherero uprising (our great patriotic war of resistance of 1904 – 1907 against the German colonial forces). He was summoned to assume leadership for the Onguatjindu Royal House, despite the fact that he was born and lived in exile in Botswana. And while he was serving as one of the most senior traditional leaders in Namibia under the Onguatjindu Royal Traditional Authority, he assigned himself the responsibility of searching for the remains of his late grandfather who was buried in South Africa. He met his sudden and untimely death while on a mission, hence again his death signifies a link to our great patriotic war of 1904 – 1907. Chief Kambazembi has competently and meticulously run the race and completed the circle, and if there are any lessons to be learned or drawn, which I personally believe there are, from the historic role he has played while he was alive, and also from the nature of his death (that he died while on mission), I believe Chief Kambazembi has left a strong message and a great challenge for all of us to fulfil. Some of the lessons are that we should not forget our historical roots. We should maintain and promote the great spirit of solidarity between our neighbouring nations and people, just to mention but a few of his exemplary deeds. Therefore, let us not forget nor break the chain of solidarity which was established by our forefathers and foremothers. From Cape to Cairo, from the Sahara to Namib deserts, our people have shared a common destiny of a dehumanizing history of colonial oppression, and at the same time they have also proudly staged a common resistance against the dark forces of colonialism, and in the process also gave each other refuge. Chief Kambazembi’s way of departure from Earth has rekindled that spirit of solidarity and linkage between our people. This great son of the soil has left a great challenge for all of us both through his deeds and spirit. Let us mourn and pay tribute to this great hero, and as we do it, at this juncture I am tempted to link my tribute for Chief David Tuvahi Kambazembi to that which was done to late Chief Josephat Kambazembi of the Onguatjindu Royal House in 1960, and covered by Dr Zed Ngavirue in the South West News. In my view, to a larger degree, these great leaders of Onguatjindu Royal House displayed similar characteristics, hence my borrowing from what Dr Ngavirue wrote in relation to late Chief Josephat Kambazembi in 1960 and I quote: “It is not on account of his birth that we have come to honour him. What brought these masses here is his most lovable personality as a good friend of everybody – rich and poor. Our Chief harboured no condemnatory spirit towards any man,” Mr Asser Kavetu at the funeral said. Mr David Tjatjitua at the graveside: “Josephat was a fearless and honest man and I, therefore, believe that he has traversed the dangers in the way to heaven and is today sitting next to his father.” And with regard to the religion and politics of the late Chief Josephat Kambazembi, Dr Ngavirue then wrote: “His politics? Chief Josephat like most hereditary chiefs never drifted into political whirlpools – of the soap-box techniques and public agitation, yet, he was a true patriot who took a clean-handed part in political affairs. He was loyal to his people and did no scruple to fight for their rights: Generally he agreed well with Chief Kutako.” And with regard to religion: “His religion? Chief Kambazembi stood midway between Ancestor worship and Christianity. A baptized and confirmed Rheinish he would sing all the Rheinish hymns together with his mother Priscilla in the most melodious voice like a nightingale. Yet he retained his Holy Fire. Every time his cousin, the writer (Dr Ngavirue), went to college he would take him to the Holy Fire, toss him once between his legs, and then ask the Ancestors for blessings. The cousin passed his examinations with honours every time. When the bulk of the Hereros broke away from the Rheinish Mission he was in for the new Church explaining to the writer that his grievances were not based on doctrine but on the practical organization of the old Church. Showing a note on which he wrote the year’s income of the Oruuano Church from his Reserve, he said, ‘In the past we did not know how our money was being administered.’ Dr Ngavirue further wrote that: “Generally Chief Josephat Kambazembi was an African imbued with ancient customs and traditions of his people. He was always courteous, moderate in the expression of his views, bold and courageous where boldness and courage were needed; self-effacing and yet self-respecting; modest and yet outspoken – his death at forty-three years has caused a great shock to us.” Courtesy of South West News, Volume 1 No. 3, 11 June 1960, by then Mr Zed Ngavirue, and now Ambassador Dr Zed Ngavirue. Personally I believe, the characteristics of the late Chief Josephat Kambazembi as written by Dr Ngavirue on the late Chief’s funeral in 1960, reflect those of late Chief David Tuvahi Kambazembi. Therefore, this admirable leadership legacy should not be seen to be only for the sons and daughters of Onguatjindu Royal House, but for all of us to emulate in Namibia and beyond. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Kazenambo Kazenambo, (MP) Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development

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