OF DYNASTIES AND RECOGNITION

By By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
October 2010
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CHIEFS, Kings, Lords, Manors and Sultans are an integral part of African existence, and a proud African heritage.

Besides the Kingdoms of the Buganda, Ankole and Toro in Uganda, Ogiso ruled the kingdom of Benin between 900 - 1170 AD, Loango in the Republic of Congo, is a kingdom along the west coast of central Africa, just north of Point Noire in Congo Brazzaville, once the ancient kingdom of Kush, Nubia is the stretch of land next to the Nile from Aswan down to Khartoum in the south, the list continues.

One cannot write about the history of Ghana without mentioning the Asante people and their kingdom. In Botswana, the Bamangwato dynasty, with heirs to the throne like the late Sir Seretse Khama, and the incumbent President, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, immediately springs to mind.

Likewise, Namibia had and still has its own kingdoms and dynasties, some of which have officially been accommodated in the structures of governance as per the Council of Traditional Leaders of 1997 and the Traditional Authorities Act of 2000.

Among such dynasties and kingdoms are those of the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu.

These include “Lords”- as they were referred to- such as Katau ua Heuva, Kamanga ua Mutjemo, Tjihuiko ua Kamauano, Kaevarua ua Ruzinga, Hiha ua Tjipion, Munduva ua Kavinde, Kahitjene ua Muhoko, Katjizahere ua Tjipuna, Mungunda ua Kujambera and Tjiramanga ua Kambepo. Despite these “Lords” eminent names such as Tjaimba, Kuaima, Tjirue, Tjimana ua Ndara, Tjozonhongo, Seu also come up historically as among the great names of the royal houses or eminent clans of the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu. Some of these dynasties have been recognised as royal houses in Namibia and codified as such in the Namibian law. Historically, as the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu did not have a single “Lord”, none is known to have been superior to the other or senior.

With the dawn of independence in 1990, and especially following the 1991 Report of the Commission of Enquiry into Matters Relating to Chiefs, Headmen and other Traditional or Tribal Leaders, also known as the Kozonguizi Commission, named after the chairperson of this commission, the late Advocate Jariretundu Kozonguizi, a new landscape for such dynasties was laid down.

“The Commission, having found that the traditional system is not only necessary but also viable, recommended that it be retained within the context of the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, and having regard to the integrity and oneness of the Namibian Nation as a priority.”

This essentially meant that such dynasties could never go back to being the autonomous institutions that they were reining not only over a territory but over subjects. Not only this but some of these dynasties are still clamouring for a place under the sun of traditional authorities in Namibia, 20 years into independence.

Public figures have been “alarmed” by the “mushrooming” of traditional authorities. As recently as the recent annual session of the Council of Traditional Leaders which met in Windhoek in September 2010, the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Jerry Ekandjo, reiterated this concern.

This official concern surely does not seem to auger well for dynasties still itching for official recognition. One such dynasty is the Otjimana-Hoveka Dynasty.

Its bid for recognition has been turned down under Section 5 (3) (a) (i) which does not allow for the designation of a chief or head of traditional community over a traditional group where a head chief or head has already been recognised. Meanwhile the matter was not even raised on the agenda of this session of the Council of the Traditional Leaders.

As long as the Ovambanderu leadership dispute remains unresolved, this status quo will remain. The Otjimana-Hoveka dynasty was part of the Ovaherero who, in the 15th Century, migrated from Angola into Kaokoland, the modern day Opuwo Constituency. The dynasty was then under the leadership of Ndara, brother to Tjirue who was the father of Tjamuaha. Ndara’s son was Tjimana the father of Karambi.

Karambi fathered Kamburona and Hoveka. Hoveka bore Kanangatie who, in turn, fathered Katookui Nikanor Hoveka (1921-1951) and Stephanus Katairova Hoveka (1951-1958). Chief Kanangatie’s nationalist dedication in the war of resistance against Imperial Germany’s colonialism is well-documented.

He was present at the election of King Maharero in Otjimbingue on June 1863. He reigned in areas of Okatjapiaa and Okatumba on the district of Okahandja.

In 1917 when the South African Apartheid government decided to move the Ovaherero and the Ovambanderu from Uichanas, Gunichas, Okatumba, Orumbo and Otjihaenena in the district of Windhoek and resettle them in native reserves, Chief Nikanor Hoveka led the Ovaherero and the Ovambanderu to Epukiro. There was essentially the founding father of Epukiro.

That was back in 1921. Since then, the Otjimana-Hoveka Dynasty has reigned over this community in Epukiro until today with the reign of Chief Sylvanus Hoveka.

Does it mean the dynasty has no right to exist or should it only do so under another existing authority as Minister Jerry Ekandjo seems to suggest? PF