WHERE TO DEPARTED OVAMBANDERU HEROES?

By By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
November 2010
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THE distasteful and unpalatable long running Ovambanderu lineage fallout resulted in the delay of Acting Chief Peter Kati Nguvauva’s burial by a month.

It took High Court Judge, Justice Collins Parker’s judgment passed on 4 November, to have the late Peter Nguvauva who died on 4 October 2010 buried at one of the three sacred Ovambanderu burial sites in Okahandja, Okeseta and Otjunda.

Applicant in the case, Keharanjo II Nguvauva and his followers were contemplating appealing against the judgment, a move which would have meant prolonging Peter Nguvauva’s burial.

Justice Parker dismissed the application saying Keharanjo II had no legal standing in the matter of the burial of late Peter Nguvauva as he is not the Paramount Chief of the Ovambanderu.

Keharanjo II is the late Paramount Chief of the Ovambanderu, Munjuku II Nguvauva’s son. He and his brother, Killus Nguvauva, are the claimants of the Nguvauva clan’s throne, and by extension the chieftaincy of the Ovambanderu community.

It had been the late Peter Nguvauva’s personal wish to be buried at Okeseta which has, since the 1950s been the traditional burial place for eminent Ovambanderus.

Otjunda and Okahandja have also been sanctified by the Ovambanderu in memory of the fallen heroes of the Ovambanderu-Ovaherero wars against German Imperial troops which took place from in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Buried at Okahandja Ovambanderu shrine-cemetery is the late Ovambanderu Chief, Kahimemua Nguvauva and Nikodemus Kahikunua - who according to historical accounts were the first Namibian nationalists and resistance fighters to be executed by imperial German forces - and Kangava as well as Chief Munjuku II, Kahimemua’s great grandson, who was laid to rested there in 2008.

The Okahandja shrine has since been declared a national heritage site.

The late Peter Nguvauva wished to be laid to rest at Okeseta close to his uncle Christof Kanguatjivi. This, however, was not to be. A precedent has, somehow, been set prior to his death.

The Ovambanderu shrines had to be closed for commemorations to maintain their sacredness while tension among these kinspeople rages on.

It is not clear whether the closure of the shrines affected the burial of the late Peter Nguvauva but one wonders if, like many of the Ovambanderu issues that are shrouded in uncertainty since the dispute, they ever would cause such delays as long as the dispute continues.

Many times court battles have been only a temporary reprieve just like the recently concluded case over the burial of late Peter Nguvauva is proving to be.

More than a matter of principle, the moratorium on commemorations seem to have been a matter of muscle flexing by one or the other group to bar their rival from using the shrines.

Last year, Keharanjo II and his group failed to commemorate the first anniversary of his late father, Paramount Chief Munjuku II, because of the moratorium which the Killus group kept in force by all means necessary.

This compelled the Namibian Police, fearing possible violence, to cordon off the Okahandja shrine. The Keharanjo II’s group eventually held the commemoration at Kasu Stadium in Katutura, Windhoek.

In June muscles were flexed again and emotions re-charged when Kilus’ adherents obtained an interim order against their rivals’ meeting at the headquarters of Ovambanderu in the settlement of Omauezonjanda, or Post Three which is the unofficial capital of the Epukiro Constituency in the Omaheke Region.

The order, which the Keharanjo II’s group did not oppose, was a sequel to both groups’ scheduling meetings on the same weekend. Keharanjo II’s group had scheduled its meeting on Friday, 11 June, while Killus’ group had set its on Saturday, 12 June at the headquarters, also known as Omimbonde Vitano (Five Camelthorn Trees).

The Omimbonde Vitanohas since time immemorial, when peace prevailed in the community has been the regular meeting for the Ovambanderu community, especially the Community Assembly.

It is the very place which gave birth to the Ovambanderu Constitution or governance document in 2005 when late Munjuku II is said to have given it his royal seal.

This constitution became a court matter that reached the Supreme Court in 2007 and its verdict was delivered in 2008 after, Munjuku II, who was the second appellant in the case, had passed away.

Once again, Justice Parker presided over the case and ruled in favour of what was then referred to as the Erastus Kahuure group.

Justice Parker in the High Court had earlier set aside a decision by the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority to adopt the constitution and to unseat some of its councilors, namely Erastus Tjiundikua and ten others.

Prior to the dispute over the Constitution, there had been internal subdued rumblings and wrangling within the Ovambanderu community, jostling for seniority between the two foremost senior traditional councilors, Kahuure of the Otjombinde communal area, and Gerson Katjirua of the Epukiro communal area.

However, since the constitutional dispute in 2005, the Ovambanderu community has been ravaged by disunity. Initial peace overtures following the court case over the constitution proved superficial as they were uttered. Or rather seemed to be cast in stone.

There are no hard rules other than conventions and year-old practices where Ovambanderu traditional leaders and other eminent personalities may be buried. In fact precedents of eminent people in this community, especially women who have not been buried at any of the three shrines of Okahandja, Okeseta and Otjunda abounds.

This goes to say the impasse over the burial of Peter Nguvauva, more than anything, is factored in the dispute and disunity among the community.

Moreso burials of especially any eminent personalities have been mostly at the dictates of the better judgment of the incumbent chief, and his leadership hierarchy with the broader community approving or disapproving in silence.

One convention that seems long forgotten is that no Omumbanderu would be buried at Okahandja where Chief Kahimemua is buried. This is a war shrine meant only for those who perished from the bullets of the colonisers, like Chief Kahimemua.

As to the other shrines, the day would also have to dawn when women shall be buried there as much the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority spokesperson, Ngahahe Tjiposa admit to there having been eminent Ovambanderu women but none of who had been buried at any of the two shrines at Okeseta and Otjunda. PF