Month-Long Mourning for Gam Chief

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By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

OKAHANDJA – Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Kuaima Riruako, has declared a month-long traditional mourning period at Gam for the late chief of Gam, Kandjanatozombua Tjiho. Riruako was one of the speakers who paid the late chief tribute at a memorial service here at the Red Flag which preceded the funeral.

Bishop Assaria Kamburona of the Protestant Unity Church, otherwise known as the Oruuano Church, committed the remains of the late chief to eternity in the Ovaherero heroes’ acre here alongside the late Chief of Ovitoto, David Ndisiro.

The funeral ceremony was preceded by tributes by various traditional leaders, including Riruako, Ovambanderu Senior Chief, Erastus Kahuure, who was accompanied by the son of the late Ovambanderu Chief, Munjuku II Nguvauva, Keharanjo II Nguvauva, a contender to the throne.

The Ovambanderu Traditional Authority was represented by Willy Hoveka and Chief Hubert Tidimalo Ditshabue represented the Bakgalagadi Traditional Authority.

Information and Communication Technology Permanent Secretary, Mbeuta Ua Ndjarakana delivered a message on behalf of the Government.
In his message, Ua Ndjarakana pointed out that what matters is not a piece of document testifying to the recognition of anyone but his work among his community.

He was making reference to the fact that the late Chief Tjiho was not recognised yet his deeds among his community spoke volumes. He said the masses who had gathered here for the memorial service of the late Chief Tjiho, had not gathered because he had an official recognition certificate, but because his people recognised his deeds among them.

Ua Ndjarakana also cautioned against low self-esteem and acquiescence by any community, encouraging each to be forthcoming in demanding what it is due to it within the framework of Namibia’s constitution that should be a constant companion.

Ua Ndjarakana said politicians not responding to the legitimate demands of the people was tantamount to corruption that Namibia despises and for which the Anti-Corruption Commission has been established to fight.
He said anyone misleadingly teaching that the Namibian Government belongs to only a section of the Namibian population, was not being truthful because everyone who is part of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary is part of the Government.

Thus, teaching the community that the Government belongs to one or the other section of the population is wrong. He said Namibia is free with an own government and there is no other government in the country that the people can turn to for their needs.

Namibia’s President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, also extended a message of condolence to the wife of the late chief and the bereaved Tjiho family, which was read at the memorial ceremony which preceded the funeral on Saturday.
His Excellency described the late Tjiho as a wise and strong leader not only of the Gam community but the entire Namibia that was proud of him. He said he would be remembered for his commitment to the social upliftment of his people.

The memorial service and funeral on Saturday was a culmination of a weeklong mourning period that saw the remains of the late chief being taken from Windhoek to Gam last Tuesday for his people there to pay him their last respects. They were returned here last Thursday where the memorial service resumed going into Friday and Saturday.

The chief was accorded a true traditional funeral characterised by horse riding, battle cries and eulogies chanted out by red, green and white flags-women warriors as well as drills by the paramilitary troops of the three flags.

The late chief Tjiho who was born on the 3rd of January in 1916 at Ondauha in the Maun area of Botswana, is credited among many heroic deeds as far as his people are concerned, with campaigning for the repatriation of the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu from Botswana to Namibia, and eventually leading them back to Namibia in 1986 when he permanently went to settle in Gam.

In December 1982, the late Chief Tjiho crossed, together with 75 people and 5 000 herd of cattle, illegally into Namibia by cutting the border at Xabashe. As a result he was imprisoned for 15 days at Grootfontein.
In 1987, he was appointed as caretaker of the Gam community. In 1992 he led an Ovaherero delegation together with Ovaherero traditional diviner, Katjiritja Mungendje, to Botswana to finally resolve the repatriation of the Ovaherero.

In April 1993, he was a member of Chief Riruako’s delegation that received the first group of Ovaherero and Ovambanderu repatriates at the Mohembo border post and was also in subsequent welcoming delegations of the second group of repatriates in September 1993, and livestock in 1994. He was installed as chief of the Gam people in 1994.

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