A strong delegation of the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority in Namibia has departed to the Oihole village in Angola this morning to participate in the commemoration of the death of king Mandume Ya Ndemufayo who was killed in combat against colonial occupation forces 102 years ago.
The main commemorative event takes place on Wednesday but it will be preceded Tuesday evening by a round table discussion on the history, culture and traditional norms of Ovakwanyama.
Queen Martha Mwadinomho Kristian Nelumbu was supposed to lead the delegation but could not make it due to ill health. The delegation is headed by former principal of Haimbili Haufiku Senior Secondary School, Dineinge Sheya and includes veteran politician Kandy Nehova, Reverend Aune Shilongo, retired police commissioner Nghiyalasha Haulyondjaba and a number of traditional leaders, historians and academicians who will deliver presentations and exchange information with their Angolan counterparts.
The delegation travelled to Oihole – a village located a few kilometres north-east of the Oshikango border post – days after the controversial crowning of Jeronimo Haleinge as the new Ovakwanyama king in Angola.
Haleinge was crowned during a colourful event at Oipembe village near Ondjiva last Saturday, but the coronation event was boycotted by the Angolan government, censored by the Angolan state media and described as “bogus” by the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority in Namibia.
Some went as far as demanding that the trip to Oihole be cancelled as a sign of protest.
However, the trip went ahead as planned after Angolan organisers of the commemorative events reassured their Namibian counterparts that Haleinge will not feature in the proceedings at Oihole because he is not recognised as king by government.
Thomas Shapwanale, one of the elders spearheading the restoration of the Oukwanyama royal house in Angola, said in a telephonic interview with Informanté that what happened at Oipembe on Saturday was “a disgrace”.
“The organisers of the event were warned beforehand that what they were doing was null and void, but they decided to go ahead,” he said.
He noted that the restoration of Mandume Ya Ndemufayo’s throne will be a national event and will attract international dignitaries. “What happened at Oipembe was a joke not to be taken seriously. The real coronation of Mandume’s successor for Ovakwanyama in Angola has yet to come. And he will be an ally and a partner of Mandume’s successor in Namibia. More importantly, both must be of the same royal blood,” said Shapwanale.
The recently crowned king Haleinge is a veteran politician and former deputy governor of the Cunene province.
He is said to be of royal lineage, from the branch of King Haikukutu Ya Shinangolo who reigned from 1858 to 1859.
Father Apolinario Hilemusinda, a renowned author and lecturer at the Catholic University in Luanda, sees Haleinge as the correct person to occupy Mandume’s throne on the Angolan side of the border.
“He is of royal lineage, was democratically elected, has a wealth of leadership experience and is intellectually well equipped for the job, as modern day monarchs ought to be,” he said.
But Shapwanale disagrees: “When Haleinge claimed to be of a royal lineage he perhaps did not know that there are those of us who know the royal clan like the palm of our hands. Haleinge belongs to Ovakwamhalanga (elephant) clan, while the Oukwanyama monarchs are Ovakwanangobe (cattle) clan.”
He added that the Oukwanyama throne is neither “for sale” nor a “free-for-all” affair.
Elder Bonifacio Shihafeleni is of the same view.
Speaking from Luanda where he went to petition government against the crowning of Haleinge, he said that the royal clan has already designated David Lomboleni Mandume, a retired policeman, as the new king of Ovakwanyama in Angola.
“Haleinge was not chosen by the royal clan. He was elected by God-knows-who. But if he was elected, then he is elenga [senior headman], not a king. Oukwanyama kings are not elected. They are chosen by the royal clan from the royal clan,” he said.
The latest developments in southern Angola are being followed with keen interest by Namibians as they may negatively affect future relations between the Ovakwanyama in Namibia and the Ovakwanyama in Angola.