The Failed Ovambanderu Palace Coup

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By Rocco Nguvauva

I am compelled to respond to an article which appeared in Namibia Today on 12 May, 2008, as well as to the Open File programme which appeared on Wednesday, 17 June 2008.

For purposes of clarity, I will confine myself to the official designations such as Senior Traditional Councillors and Chief as per the Traditional Authorities Act.

I consider the Concerned Group as nothing more than a palace coup foiled by the will of the majority. It was started under the guise of unhappiness with the adopted constitution. In real terms it was a push to wrestle control from His Royal Highness, late Munjuku under the guise of democratization.
I will site a few examples in this regard:

Parallel administration:

1) Through his spokespersons, Kahuure claims that the Nguvauva Royal House needs to be replaced with the Kavari, Muundjua and Hoveka Houses. (The Nambia Today; 12 June, 2008.) The leadership of the Nguvauva Royal House was born out of a historical necessity and dates back to about 1800. It came about as result of prophetic powers, organizational capacity, and leadership skills. What are some of its struggle credentials?

One of its sons and leader Chief Kahimemua Nguvauva is today considered by many to be the first liberation hero in Namibia. He was the first black man in Southern Africa to be executed by a firing squad because he refused to give land to the colonisers. These so-called historians need to go to the Heroes Acre to corroborate what I am saying.

2) His great-grandson late Chief Munjuku, needs no elaboration. He was accorded a State funeral by the SWAPO Party government, early this year for his heroism. He is also a first amongst traditional leaders to be accorded this honour. This is the reason why the majority Ovambanderu people will ever be grateful to the mighty SWAPO Party and its government and would continue to rally firmly behind SWAPO Party and cooperate with it fully.

3) My question is then: “Where did the Nguvauva Royal House go wrong?” My answer is “nowhere”. But why calls to replace it with untested houses? The Concerned Group think that they can fool the Ovambanderu people, fool Namibians and promise them Heaven by proposing to replace the Nguvauva Royal House with untested leadership. The Nguvauva Royal House will continue to rule the Ovambanderu People until they themselves decide otherwise. The Ovambanderu People will defend their heritage, customs and traditions with their last drop of blood by ensuring that the Nguvauva Royal House will continue to rule for generations. Those who want to rewrite the history of Namibia by trying to impose themselves as historians of the Ovambanderu, and the liberation struggle, are in for a rude surprise.

Office of the “Senior Chief” vs Office of the Chief of the Ovambanderu

Let me turn to the argument that the “Senior Chief ” is the automatic leader to deputise the Office of the Ovambanderu Chief in his absence.

The so-called experts in Mbanderu History have shown that they do not qualify as such. They are confusing Royal Leadership – Chieftainship which is hereditary (the chieftainship is passed on from generation to generation) with an administrative position of “Senior Chief”.

The position of “Senior Chief” was purely an administrative position and elected. It is not equal to the position of a Vice or Deputy Chief. One is chosen amongst Senior Traditional Councillors.

Its origin is not the Nguvauva Royal House, from which the Ovambanderu Chief must come. Any attempt at elevating it to Vice or Deputy Chief has a sinister motive.

Our ancestors deliberately omitted a position of Vice or Deputy Chief for fear of what we are now experiencing, namely the attempt by Senior Traditional Councillor Kahuure to impose himself as Acting Chief when he knows very well that the position of Chief reverts back to the Nguvauva Royal House, when the chief is no more. It is not automatic that the “Senior Chief” will act as Ovambanderu Chief as the concerned group is making us believe.

On the other hand, the origin of the position of Ovambanderu Chief is the Nguvauva Royal House, according to Mbanderu custom and tradition. After the death of our late Royal Highness Munjuku II, the Nguvauva Royal House was approached by the community leadership to take over their responsibility as custom dictates. This is the reason why Mr Peter Nguvauva, the most senior person in the Nguvauva Clan, has been Caretaker Leader of the Ovambanderu people since then.

Mr Peter Nguvauva had sole authority in deciding on the funeral arrangements of the late Ovambanderu Chief, in his capacity as Acting Chief. This decision government respected as it was in line with the customs and traditions of the Ovambanderu people. This has been the practice for generations.

It is this procedure that was followed, after the notorious German Concentration Camps, and after the settlement of Epukiro and Aminuis were inhabited. The Ovambanderu in Namibia under late Christoph Kanguatjivi, Tjingaete, etc., approached the Nguvauva Royal House to provide leadership. There were many prominent people from the Nguvauva Clan, in Namibia, at the time.

There were also many wise and educated men from other Mbanderu houses in South West Africa, but it was decided to revert to the Nguvauva Royal House for leadership. Late Chief Munjuku became Ovambanderu Chief because of a prophetic will of 1896, at the battle of Otjunda (Sturmfeld) against the Commander of the German Forces, Major Leutwein. In his will, his great grandfather, Chief Kahimemua said to his son (really nephew) Nikodemus Hiatuvao Nguvauva: “I shall not untie your knot. You must not be killed, though you will be wounded. When all has become quiet here, you shall return to our land. But when the whole country is thrown into upheaval (at the time of the great uprisings), and you have trekked into a strange country, there you shall find a calf by a well which is descendant from our sacred cow. That shall be your future inheritance .” (Sundermeier, Theo, 1966, pp 42-43:). It is this prophetic testament that the Ovambanderu followed, when they installed late Chief Munjuku. It is this precedent created by this prophetic will, that the Ovambanderu are re-enacting today. The testament by late Chief Munjuku, to propose his successor, is in line with the prophetic tradition of the Nguvauva Royal House and the Ovambanderu people. This is a historical fact.

Those that are not happy with this prophetic tradition, should be bold enough and state that they would like to break away from this tradition, and would like to establish their own elected authority. This is what the so-called Concerned Group is attempting.

It follows from the above then that, when the Ovambanderu people are choosing a new leader, the correct procedure to follow is to call upon the Nguvauva Royal House, to meet, debate and propose a leader or leaders to the Ovambanderu people. It is at this meeting that any written or oral testaments (wills) are considered and by consensus recommendation/s are arrived at, to be tabled before the Community General Assembly for ratification and endorsement.

It is also correct to argue that the head of the Nguvauva Royal House, in this case Royal Peter Nguvauva (uncle of the late Chief) would determine what consensus and recommendations have been reached and call a halt to proceedings.

It is logical reasoning that it is also the Caretaker Leader, in this case Royal Peter Nguvauva (the most senior person in the Nguvauva Clan), in the absence of the Chief of the Ovambanderu, who would convene a Community General Assembly, to convey the recommendations of the meeting of the Nguvauva Royal House, to the Ovambanderu people.

The “Senior Chief”, Senior and other Traditional Councillors, would only play a supportive (administrative) role to the Office of the Ovambanderu Chief (Caretaker Leader: Royal Peter Nguvauva).

To argue that the Senior Chief should convene a Community General Assembly that discusses the issue of succession of the Ovambanderu Chief, when that power has reverted back to the Nguvauva Royal House, is to impose the Office of the “Senior Chief” on that of the Caretaker Leader Royal Peter Nguvauva. This is tantamount to a military coup d’?

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