Elections held at newly built Oipembe palace
THE Ovakwanyama tribesmen on the Angolan side of the border are planning to crown their own king this coming Saturday, but the event is generating a controversy days before Oukwanyama Queen Martha Mwadinomho Kristian Nelumbu’s planned visit to the Oihole village in southern Angola as part of the 102nd commemoration of the death of King Mandume Ya Ndemufayo.
Queen Mwadinomho was invited by the Angolan authorities to participate on a round table discussion at Oihole on 5 February and the commemoration of Mandume’s death on 6 February.
King Mandume of Oukwanyama died in combat against colonial occupation forces on 6 February 1917 and was buried at Oihole, a village located a few kilometres north-east of Oshikango. His grave is now a national monument and tourist attraction site.
After Mandume’s demise, the Oukwanyama tribe was without a monarch for over 80 years and was permanently separated into two parts by the international border between Namibia and Angola.
The Oukwanyama royal house was only restored after independence, but its jurisdiction is limited to the Namibian side of the border, leaving the Oshikwanyama-speaking Angolans without a monarch.
The Angolans have now decided to crown their own king, but they disagree on who is to be crowned.
It is alleged that members of the royal clan have designated retired police officer David Lomboleni Mandume as the new king, but the politically well connected former deputy governor for the Cunene province, Jeronimo Haleinge, is also contesting and it appears that he is getting the upper hand.
Claims by some members of the royal clan that Haleinge is not of royal linage, were dismissed by others as “cheap talk”.
Haleinge will be crowned at Oipembe village near Ondjiva on 2 February.
His crowning is being opposed by a faction that has already sent elders to the Omhedi palace of Queen Nelumbu, while another delegation is currently in Luanda to plead the case before President Joao Lourenco.
“We cannot allow someone who is not a member of the royal clan to usurp the throne simply because he is politically well connected,” said one of the elders on condition of anonymity.
He accused Haleinge of being power hungry.
“He tried to have himself crowned king some years ago but the move was thwarted by the late Governor of Cunene, Antonio Didalelwa. He revived his plans after Didalelwa passed away. That is really unfortunate that we have, in Angola, people who think that they must always be ‘chief’ one way or the other. When they lose one position they try to grab yet another position,” he noted.
A Catholic cleric and lecturer at a university in Luanda has a totally different story to tell.
Speaking to Informanté in a telephonic interview and on condition of anonymity, he noted that Haleinge is of royal linage, from the line of King Haikukutu Ya Shinangolo who reigned from 1858 to 1859.
“Elections were held at the newly built Oipembe palace and I was one of the observers. There were three candidates from three different branches of the royal clan and Haleinge won fair and square,” he said.