The evolution of Ondonga royal clan can be backdated, traced to the 1650s.
The Ondonga royal clan belonged to the Hyena clan, and they are matrilineal as well as their subjects (commoners). Succession of power to rule is done by nomination by a king together with senior members of the royal clan and supported by the counsellor-in-chief together with a senior council of counsellors. If the King is not available nomination is done by senior royal clan supported by king’s council.
Throughout the decades, Ondonga Traditional Authority is conducted by nomination and appointment but not by election or any form of campaign. From the 1650s, each succession crisis was solved according to its own gravity according to Aandonga customary laws. Nowadays authority is influenced by external forces, e.g., colonialism, Christianity, and independence. The environmental impact is not excluded in this context.
The first known Aandonga ruler was Mundonga gwa Nakanyanyo who was succeeded by his nephew King Nembulungo IyaNgwedha who belonged to the Python clan during the 1650s. King Nembulungo ruled Ondonga for a long time until his ailing that triggered his nephew Shikongo shaNamutenya gwa Nguti (Mumbwenge) who clandestinely assassinated his ailing uncle. Aandonga never recognised Mumbwenge’s rule as they considered him as an intruder from Ombwenge in Kavango. During that period there was a leadership vacuum.
Although Mumbwenge was a pure Ndonga he only defected to Kavango fearing his uncle Nembulung IyaNgwedha. Since Aandonga did not recognise the reign of Mumbwenge, he was as a result overthrown by Nangombe dhaMvula who was from the Hyena clan. Nangombe stabilised Ondonga.
Nangombe was succeeded by his nephew King Nembungu IyaMutundu who ruled between 1750 and 1810. He was of the longest serving kings of Ondonga, others being the current king, Immanuel Kauluma Elifas, who ruled for 42 years so far, and then his uncle Martin Kadhikwa who ruled for 30 years.
King Nembungu was a wise ruler, who was known as the founder of the Ondonga constitution and drew up an organogram which is used today. The executive powers rest on the King, Counsellor-in-chief (Elanga enene Iyomiya dhomiya dhoshilongo) and senior counsellors who constituted the council of counsellors.
Ondonga organogram can be classifed by two phases:
1) Pre-Colonial and Pre-Christianity
King, counsellor-in-chief, council of counsellors, district headman, war commander, butler, high-priest, ward headman, worriers, courtiers, clergy, householder, chief body guard, chief attendant, chief messenger, chief cook, cup bearer, custodian of secret fire, master of initiation ceremonies, head of the salt pan and chief herdman.
2) Present Structure
King, counsellor-in-chief, council of counsellors, secretary, district headman, ward headman, household, messenger, clerks, headman.
Nembungu’s structure has drastically changed by external factors, e.g. colonialism, Christianity, independence and other socio-cultural factors, but these changes and developments are orbiting the Aandonga customary laws and norms. His skills of administration had accosted Chief Nailungu the brother to Hautolonde who appealed to Nembungu to give the Aakwanyama a king to rule them until an appropriate king was to be appointed. Thus Shimbilinga she Ngwedha from Ondonga was to rule as the Aakwanyama King.
Another crisis occurred from 1886-1904. During that time Ondonga was invaded by the Boers from Transvaal who then settled in Ondonga southern part between Tsumeb, Grootfontein and Otavi, about 50,000 hectares of land and it was declared Upingtonia
In 1904 there was another crisis after King Nehale Iya Mpingana dislodged the German Schutztruppe who were advancing their settlement program to the far north claiming to help and protect King Nande against the Portuguese. Nehale destroyed the German Military Garrison at Amutuni IyOmanenge in Etotha Iya Nuumbwambwa and he acquired a lot of guns, ammunition, wagons and livestock.
After the war at Amutuni, Nehale accelerated to settle the Herero refugees in his territory, and further appealed to other rulers to do the same, e.g. Negumbo Iya Kandenge of Uukwambi, Tshanika Tshanashilongo of Ongandjera and Nande of Oukwanyama.
The same year he sent a military contingent from Onajena to Ohamakari to help Hereros who suffered atrocities from the Germans. All these events created fear amongst the Aandonga communities as the Germans were threating to retaliate and even demanded from King Nehale to pay a compensation of 100,000 Reichsmark, to return all livestock including a Simmental stud bull. Nehale rejected, and then threatened to attack the German Garrison at Grootfontein, but the Germans were tipped off by the San tribe and deserted the area. In order for Nehale to succeed in these operations he cooperated with his counsellors, especially those in executives positions.
3) The other scenario was in 1942 where King Martin Kadhikwa nominated Paulus Elifas his nephew as his successor, but after his death the nomination was found inappropriate by the counsellors-in-chief, and senior royal members, as a result Eino Johannes Namene was nominated and appointed as King of Aandonga.
4) Another crisis was in 1967 when King Martin Ashikoto was dethroned by the colonial government and deported to Khorihas. The colonial government nominated Chief Fillemon Shilongo, an Oshikwanyama speaking commoner, to be king of Ondonga. It was categorically rejected by Kasita ka Nehale who was a counsellor-in-chief at the time. Then Paulus Elifas was nominated and appointed as King of Ondonga.
The other event is where the counsellor-in-chief, senior royal members and senior council of the counsellors used a bolt decision to nominate and appoint the current Immanuel Elifas as the king in 1975 after his brother had been assassinated. Our current King inherited the legacy of his great grand uncles e.g. King Nembungu Iya Mutundu, King Nehale Iya Mpingana and King Nambala Kadhikwa.
King Immanuel followed some of his predecessors whose services were excellent.
1) King Nembungu Iya Muntundu
Gave King Shimbilinga sha Ngwedha to serve Aakwanyama.
2) King Nehale Iya Mpingana
Resettled the Hereros and aided them in fighting the Germans directly by offering them some of his warriors in 1904.
3) King Nambala dha Kadhikwa
Resettled Aakwanyama after Portuguese-British Mandume war 1917
4) King Immanuel Elifas
Resettled Angolan refugees during Angolan war 1976. The Aandonga kings have been operating within the ambit of Aandonga customary law ever since.