QUEEN Martha Mwadinomho Kristian Nelumbu, who hosted the successful centenary commemoration of the death of King Mandume Ya Ndemufayo at the Omhedi Palace in the Ohangwena Region in February 2017, was absent at the 103rd commemorative event held at Oihole in the Cunene province of Angola last week, an absence that did not go unnoticed.
Queen Nelumbu’s secretary, Dineinge Sheya, said that Meekulu Nelumbu did not attend the Mandume Day commemoration at Oihole because the invitation from the Angolan authorities came on a short notice (three days before the event) and the program of proceedings was “not very clear”.
The Mandume Day is commemorated annually at Oihole, a village a few kilometers north of the Angola-Namibia border where Mandume died in combat against occupation forces on the 6th February 1917, leaving the Oukwanyama traditional community without a monarch for over 80 years.
Queen Nelumbu has always attended the commemorations at Oihole either in person or through legates.
Her absence this year is being interpreted as “a boycott” and a sign of the widening rift within the Ovakwanyama traditional community on either sides of the Namibia-Angola border following the coronation of Jeronimo Haleinge as king of Oukwanyama on the Angolan side of the border.
A retired MPLA politician, Hailenge was crowned king on 2 February last year.
His installation was frowned upon by Ovakwanyama in Namibia, was boycotted by the state media and was not immediately recognized by the Angolan government.
But the situation has seemingly changed.
King Haleinge was the centre of attentions during this year’s commemorations alongside the newly appointed provincial governor, Gerdina Ulipamwe Didalelwa.
The Oukwanyama royal house was only restored after Namibian independence, but its jurisdiction was limited to the Namibian side of the border, leaving the Oshikwanyama-speaking Angolans without a monarch.
Initially, the royal clan in Angola nominated retired police officer, David Lomboleni Mandume, to be crowned king on the Angolan side, but another faction of the community elected Haleinge, having dismissed widespread claims that he is not a member of the royal clan.