KING OF KINGS
ONE of the greatest trees from the Namibian forests of remarkable leaders fell with the death of King Immanuel Kauluma Elifas of Ondonga.
The 86-year old King Kauluma Elifas from Onamungundo was arguably the greatest monarch, by rule and example, of recent Namibian history. He enjoyed the third longest reign of all Ondonga kings of the past more than 300-years.
The late King’s legacy is more remarkable than his kingship that sprung from an act of terror when in 1975 he became the successor to his brother, Fillemon Shuumba Elifas, who was killed by an unknown assassin in the brutal war of Namibian liberation.
The shot that killed his brother was also the shot that intensified Swapo operations in the Northern frontier and all over the Ondonga-kingdom and virtually transformed Ondangwa into a permanent military base from which the heart of South African operations within and outside of the country was launched and orchestrated.
Settlements like Onayena, Okatope, Omuthiya – to name but a few – were battlefields amongst scattered homesteads and Cuca Shops of the time.
Today however, the shadow of late King Kauluma Elifas under whose rule the battlefields developed into towns and settlements and swords turned into ploughshares serves as a permanent guiding light for the whole of Namibia.
The Ondonga from Oshivello gate to Ondangwa is the throat through which development and entrepreneurship unlocks the frontiers of all other areas that is mushrooming at an unstoppable and blistering pace since Independence. New roads and a railway line don’t divide, but bond the destiny of the Northern Communities amongst themselves and invites the rest of Namibia to nationhood.
In this regard history recognizes the Ondonga as the loins from where all sprang.
King Kauluma Elifas was born, grew up and lived on his battlefield, but departed to answer the call of his famous ancestors as a warrior of peace, unity and tolerance. The greatest gift of the Ondonga to all Namibians.
Plan fighters from Ondonga were often facing their friends and families in Koevoet and SWATF and when the 1989 elections took place, the Ondonga dealt opposition parties a decisive blow with overwhelming support for Swapo that shocked most if not all political observers. Out of an expected thousands of SA-co-opted votes nearly none came and the Oluno military base — formerly home to 101 battalion — overnight became an unshakeable Swapo stronghold for the past nearly three decades and the foundation of a stable, free and just Namibia where common good in the end always prevail.
In May 2016 the remarkable traditional leadership of the King was recognized by President Hage Geingob, when at the Omagongo festival at the ailing Kings Palace he donated an cow and a sheep to late Immannuel Elifias recognizing and maybe also seduced by the charm of the traditional steadfastness of the King to remark that: “Culture makes people understand each other better and make it easier to overcome economic and political challenges facing the nation.” The ailing king was attending the festivities in the back of a “bakkie” when he already was gravely ill. He insisted to be present, to attend to his duty and honouring his invitation to His President.
Today in mourning that Kauluma/Geingob-meeting of minds at the Onamungundo palace was prophetic, but unity and understanding is as timeless as the memory of the departed King himself.
It is fair to say that King Kauluma Elifas laid the foundations for the re-instatement and increased respect of all the chiefs after Namibian Independence, and that the Ondonga under the King and the inhabitants of the northern battlefields led reconciliation and tolerance that Namibians are now risking to take for granted.
King Elifas Kauluma is a symbol of both war and peace, a quality more rare than the rarest of Namibian diamonds.
The Ondangwa town that King Kauluma Elifas inherited as a military garrison at a time accommodating maybe the strongest military force on the African continent, consisting mainly of an Air Force, became the throat through which the development of the north to an economic powerhouse since Independence is fed.
The town was historic for the South West Africa National Labour Association (SWANLA) recruiting offices of contract labourers under the shades of the giant Marula and Makalani and gave birth to the struggle for justice. Where a state of emergency prohibited any movement before and after sunsets disrupted a normal way of life, it is today the symbol from where various roads, the railway line, business and education facilities unlocked the most hostile of Namibian landscapes.
A Kingdom of peace and development and an example to follow, because it is set by a King worthy to be followed, because he served.
The role and welcoming attitude of the late King Kauluma Elifas to investors and businessmen is still the heartbeat of growth and entrepreneurship of the Ondonga and which is universally admired.
A king of peace and unity leaves a nation grieving in peace and unity.
Late Elifas was either the 17th or the 18th king of Ondonga depending on whether Nehale lyaMpingana is excluded or included on the list of Ondonga kings, but he did his ancestors proud and deserves an honorary place amongst those that called him for higher duty.
He will sit at the fire of Ondonga giants as servant of all his people until his last breath. The longest serving king of Ondonga was Nembungu lyAmutundu whose reign lasted 70 years – from 1750 to 1820. The second longest serving was king Nangombe yaMvula (1700-1750).
The winds that announces the rain through the makalani palms of the Ondonga landscapes will forever whisper his name.