Former president Hifikepunye Pohamba was disturbed by the absence of traditional leaders from other tribal authorities in Zambezi, at the annual Lusata cultural festival of the Mafwe people that took place on Sunday at Chichimane.
Zambezi is made up of the four traditional authorities of the Mafwe, Mayeyi, Mashi and Masubia.
Pohamba, who was the guest of honour at the festival, noted that gracing each other’s cultural events would promote an exchange of knowledge and hopefully unity in the tribally plagued region.
“I have noticed the absence of other traditional authorities. Maybe they were not invited like I was invited. It would have been more beautiful if this festival was attended by other traditional leaders as well. They can as well learn from what others are doing. There are a lot of things to teach each other. I do hope that at the next Lusata an invitation would be extended to other leaders so that they come and learn from this very valuable culture,” stated Pohamba.
Pohamba appealed for unity and called for every concerted effort to maintain peace in the country.
“I am appealing to the organising committee – next time invite neighbouring traditional authorities to attend Lusata. This will bring about unity among our people. You can as well invite people even from as far as Keetmanshoop to attend this occasion. Let’s be a peaceful region and a peaceful Namibia,” implored Pohamba.
The Zambezi Region has a long history of bitter tribal rivalry, particularly between the Masubia and the Mafwe over land jurisdiction.
At the centre of the protracted tribal feud is the Sikanjabuka area in eastern Zambezi with both traditional authorities claiming jurisdiction.
The disputed area divided the two tribes to such an extent in 2008 that community members of the Masubia and Mafwe fought over the construction of a Masubia sub-khuta in the disputed area.
Despite the Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu creating the chiefs’ forum, which is made up of all the four traditional chiefs, along with a limited number of senior traditional councillors, officials from the regional and local authority councils, legal advisors and other essential government officials, to find common ground on pertinent tribal issues, it remains a white elephant and Sampofu conceded this during a recent visit to the region by President Hage Geingob.
The last time the chiefs of the two tribes interacted was during the reign of now exiled former Mafwe chief Boniface Bebi Mamili and the late Masubia chief Joshua Mutwa Moraliswani.
However, the four traditional chiefs were seen together during the launching of the chiefs’ forum in 2012 and recently during Geingob’s regional visit.