By Kuvee Kangueehi
Police were called in to ensure peace between two opposing factions of the Ovambanderu tribe during their annual commemorations yesterday.
Caught in the crossfire were Mafwe Chief George Mamili and his delegation.
Despite an agreement late Friday afternoon by the two Ovambanderu factions – one led by Paramount Chief Munjuku Nguvauva and the other by Senior Chief Erastus Kahuure – that they would draw up one programme and put up a single organizing committee, the group split into two again and failed to reach a compromise at the final hour.
The split led to confusion and tension, which generally marred the spirit under which the day is normally commemorated. All seemed well on Saturday evening as both groups agreed to a single programme, which was signed by Nguvauva. However, during the early hours of yesterday, Chief Nguvauva okayed another programme, which was unilaterally drawn up by one group that excluded the Kahuure faction.
When the proceedings started on Sunday morning, the divisions between the two groups were noticeable. They visited the grave of Chief Kahimemua Nguvauva in two groups.
After the visit to the grave, those belonging to the Kahuure faction, together with Chief Mamili and his delegation, assembled under a tent. However, Nguvauva and his senior traditional councillors refused to come to the tent and left everybody, including Chief Mamili, in limbo. After spending more than an hour under the tent, and with Nguvauva sitting a few metres away in a car, Mamili decided to leave and made a brief stop by the car where Nguvauva was sitting. At this point, followers of the Nguvauva faction threatened to dismantle the tent under which everybody including Mamili was sitting.
Community members belonging to the Nguvauva faction also took control of the sound system and started controlling the event, in the process sidelining the Kahuure faction. Shortly afterwards, Nguvauva arrived at the tent and the commemoration finally resumed. However, the Kahuure faction was unhappy with the proceedings and walked out. They threatened to disrupt the proceedings but over 50 people surrounded the tent as Nguvauva hastily delivered the speech and closed the proceedings.
The latest developments are a clear sign that the rift in the Ovambanderu community is far from over.
The Ovambanderu community split into two factions following the adoption of a new constitution almost two years ago by the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority. Some of the members of the community objected to the new constitution.
The adoption of the constitution led to 11 traditional leaders, including Senior Chief Erastus Kahuure, being removed from their positions. Kahuure and the other expelled traditional authorities took their case to the Windhoek High Court where a bitter legal battle ensued. In the end, he won the case.
However, the traditional authority is not happy with the court ruling and has since lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court.