Despite stiff resistance from a faction opposed to her coronation the Mwengere faction of the Shambyu on Saturday presented Sofia Mundjembe Kanyetu, 48, to the public as its nominee.
The Mwengere faction’s nominee for the Shambyu tribe – that has been without a chief since the death of Chief Angeline Matumbo Ribebe – is a registered nurse at Rundu State Hospital.
The Mukwahepo clan on the other hand will also today (Tuesday) present to the public the person they feel has the stature and qualities to succeed Ribebe as chief, whose name they gave as 56-year-old Maria Kunyanda Joachim, the principal of Ncgancgana Primary School.
The Shambyu Traditional Authority (STA) on Saturday presented to members of the public as a possible chief a candidate selected from the Mwengere lineage that has reigned for decades.
Saturday’s ritual – that could lead to the nominee being coronated as chief – went ahead despite bickering involving the Mwengeres and the Mukwahepos, who objected to each other’s nominations.
The Mukwahepo and Mwengere factions are entwined in a winner-takes-all succession battle over which family from the same lineage should replace the late chief Matumbo Ribebe, who died in June.
Presently the two factions from different parts of the Shambyu royal line are locked in a bitter dispute over which family should be installed, with one of the groups, the Mukwahepos, saying it is their turn.
One of the factions argues the last time a descendant of their family reigned was 74 years ago, but the other faction is undeterred and says it wants continuity.
The STA seems to support the Mwengere candidate, whose family has reigned for 74 years, much to the chagrin of the other faction that wants the status quo to be discontinued.
Nurse Kanyetu was presented to members of the public at a ceremony at the Shambyu tribal offices at Kayengona village, some 13 km east of Rundu. The public ritual paves the way for preparations for the planned official coronation.
As is customary in the Kavango, a period of 90 days is earmarked for mourning and as a waiting period, while at the same time the succession process, nomination and other rituals are discussed behind closed doors by senior clan members to clear the way for the coronation.
According to the acting ruler, who is also the senior headwoman of the Shambyu traditional authority, Theresia Donna Haupindi, on October 24 she called both the Shambyu royal clans, the Mukwahepo faction and the Mwengere faction, for a meeting at her house at Kayengona.
At the meeting the Mwengere faction said the late queen Ribebe left a verbal will, nominating the person who should take over once she dies. “When the queen was critically ill, she told those who were near her who should take over as ruler and that is that the Mwengere should continue, “ said the acting chief Shambyu chief.
“After some days we decided to come up with a day to inform the tribe of who is to take over as their ruler and that day is on Saturday. If the others have a problem with that then they can take their path. For us we will just do what is right and do our duties,” said chief Haupindi.
The acting chief said the Mukwahepo faction is not happy about late Ribebe’s wish, as invoked by the Mwengere faction, saying they were unaware of such a wish.
“As a senior headwoman I then told both factions that I will have to call the State-recognised headmen and headwomen, so that I can sit with them and discuss the matter and they all agreed that the late ruler’s wish cannot be ignored as has been the tradition in the past,’’ she told New Era.
The Mukwahepo faction recently held a press conference at the tribal office and through Rebekka Kambundu, who is also the eldest in both wings of the royal family, said “Our genuine demand and interest is to be given the opportunity too, as all wings qualify to be the sitting Hompa,” Kambundu said.
She said since both royal families failed to cooperate and showed no interest in discussing the matter with her, and after she learnt that non-royal members were involved in secret meetings, she approached the Governor for Kavango East, Dr Samuel Mbambo for mediation.
According to Kambundu, Mbambo managed to convince acting Hompa Haupindi to call a meeting, in which the opposing factions were all given an opportunity to present their cases.
“During this meeting my clan, the Mukwahepo wing of the royal family outlined our position of the need for a transparent process to identify a candidate and also to indicate our interest to be given a chance to take over for the first time as the eldest wing, since the other wing with their descendants started ruling from the late Hompa Maria Mwengere, the late Hompa Gothard Haininga and then the late Angeline Matumbo Ribebe. In total they ruled for 74 uninterupted years,” Kambundu said.