LIKE the Biblical Bethlehem which was one of the smallest towns of Judah, Onambango was until recently a little known village located on the outskirts of the Ondangwa town in the Oshana Region.
However, the village’s status changed overnight when village headman Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo was crowned king of the Ondonga Traditional Community and his homestead was formally transformed into the King’s Palace.
Like all other rural villages in the North, Onambango is characterized by modest traditional homesteads, but here, Nangolo’s luxurious palace stands out.
It is easily accessible where it is located a few metres from the gravel road that links Ondangwa to Uukwiyu-Uushona.
That was here where a huge crowd gathered Saturday to witness Nangolo’s official installation as successor to late King Immanuel Kauluma Elifas.
Nangolo was born in the Enkono village near the Ondangwa Airport on 9 June 1974, son of Namupala Nangolo and Maria Manene Josef who is late King Elifas’ niece.
After matriculating at the Oshakati Senior Secondary School, Nangolo joined the Namibia Defense Force (NDF) in 1999 and after basic military training at the Osna base near Okahandja, attended a helicopter pilot training course in South Africa from 2000 to 2001.
He also attended various other courses at military academies in China, Libya and South Africa.
His biographer Lukas Shawana described him as the best academically qualified king of Ondonga ever.
Shawana said that from a very young age Nangolo demonstrated extra ordinary leadership qualities and such qualities did not go unnoticed by late King Elifas who in 2002 appointed him as his deputy and designated him as successor.
“Nangolo was initially reluctant to accept the designation as heir to the throne, preferring to keep his job as air force pilot. He only changed his mind after NDF generals intervened and persuaded him to accept the honour,” said Shawana.
Speaking on behalf of the Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA), Senior Traditional Councilor Vilho Kamanya expressed sadness about the internal squabbling that characterized the OTA the past three years.
He said that Aandonga were betrayed by people who were supposed provide assistance and good advice.
“We eventually won the battle, but let us not be complacent. The war continues because our opponents are hard-headed and will not accept defeat that easily,” he said referring to recent court cases involving the two factions of the OTA.
OTA lawyer Elise Angula said the prolonged squabbling within the OTA was politically motivated.
He described those who were opposing Nangolo’s coronation as “a small but vicious group” of individuals who went as far as occupying by force the tribal offices at Ondangwa and they were assisted by the Namibian police. They also highjacked late King Elifas’ burial. “Late King Elifas was buried by strangers when he was supposed to be buried by the OTA. It is very sad that things of this nature are happening in a modern democracy,” she said.
Why Cheetah skin?
During the coronation ceremony, the new king was given the symbols of power including a copy of the Namibian constitution, a copy of Ondonga customary laws, a spear and a chairman’s gavel and was given his official wear comprising of a traditional belt and a hat and scarf of Cheetah skin.
According to Ondonga community elder Shali Kamati, the Cheetah skin symbolizes tactfulness and agility. Its countless differently-shaped spots symbolize diversity within the traditional community which differences the king must handle tactfully and fairly.
The presence of VIPs
While Urban and Rural Development Minister Peya Mushelenga’s presence at the coronation event was mandated by law, but Vice President Nangolo Mbumba also attended the event as representative of the Head of State, Hage Geingob, what he said was a demonstration of Government’s recognition of the traditional authorities as partners in the development of the country.
The event was also attended by several current and former cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, regional governors, representatives of various traditional authorities and a huge crowd of Aandonga and well-wishers from other parts of the country.
The chairman of the Mangetti Farmers Association, Ismael Shailemo, put the number of head of cattle slaughtered for the event at 48.