Keharanjo II no more, is this the end? ‘To the Ovambanderu, Keharanjo is a martyr...’

Death ends struggle for chieftaincy,” read a headline in a local daily, the Monday following the tragic passing on of Ovambanderu Paramount Chief, Keharanjo II Nguvauva.

This must have been a reference to the long-drawn lack of consensus within the Nguvauva Royal House as to who, between two brothers, Kilus Nguvauva, and his younger brother, Keharanjo II, is the rightful heir, first to the throne of the Nguvauva Royal House, from which in turn a successor to the Ovambanderu Chieftaincy must be designated and anointed.

Although the article did not elaborate why the struggle for the Ovambanderu chieftaincy may eventually have had come to an end, nothing can be far from the truth.

In fact, at the first official media briefing in Windhoek following his death, it was categorically stated that soon after his burial a successor shall be announced.

“But efforts for the recognition of the Ovambanderu by the Government are standing as they are and are not changeable. The chieftaincy is standing as is without change.

“This man has been appointed as per tradition and this is a done deal with the world being witness to this in Gobabis. He is the Chief of the Ovambanderu. Period! He will be succeeded as per the Ovambanderu culture. You shall be informed shortly,” Ovambanderu Senior Chief, Erastus Kahuure informed the media.

The late Keharanjo II, Kahuure explained, left a note outlining his wishes on many matters, including his burial and the Ovambanderu chieftaincy henceforth.

The contents of the note had as yet to be revealed but it was unmistaken that by its spirit, Kahuure and company, as well as the entire Ovambanderu community behind them, wish to abide and if necessary die to honour the memory of the late Keharanjo II who they believe sacrificed his life for the Ovambanderu community.

In their eyes, he is a martyr. “The person to lead the Ovambanderu must hail from the Royal House of Nguvauva but must be favoured by the Ovambanderu themselves, the majority of the Ovambanderu. He cannot be imposed on the Ovambanderu community at all,” Kahuure was unequivocal on how the paramount leader of his community must be appointed.

“In their majority, they must agree on the person to lead them,” he further accentuated. Kahuure further pointed out that the leaders of the Ovambanderu community, notably him and co-leaders, would continue to lead the Ovambanderu community until the community itself decide to unseat them either because they have erred, resigned voluntarily or age no longer allows them to continue to lead. Kahuure could not but reiterate that as leaders they shall never impose themselves on the people but shall be guided by their will.

If one should read between the lines of Kahuure’s message, chieftaincy as far as they are concerned is no longer an issue. The late Keharanjo II, according to him and his Ovambanderu followers, was duly appointed as per Ovambanderu tradition.

The outstanding issue was no longer between them and any other Ovambanderu group that may exist but between them (Kahuure and company) and the Government to recognise the Keharanjo II’s Ovambanderu traditional authority. Thus, as far as they are concerned, the case pending in the court of law challenging what they believe is the Government’s U-turn on its resolve, specifically the resolve by the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Honourable Jerry Ekandjo, to recognise the late Keharanjo II as the rightful heir to the throne of the Nguvauva Royal House, and by extension the Ovambanderu chieftaincy, is by no means nullified by Keharanjo II’s passing on.

In December 2009 the Honourable Ekandjo following the Report on Ovambanderu Leadership Dispute, which he commissioned, wrote, as his resolve, to the law firm Dr. Weder, Kauta and Hoveka INC, “that Mr Keharanjo II Nguvauva, should become the successor to his late father Nguvauva II,” meaning Munjuku II Nguvauva.

The Minister, basing his decision on the report of the investigating committee further wrote that: According to the Ovambanderu customs, the son born within wedlock is senior to those born out of marriage, and according to the Ovambanderu customary laws, this senior son becomes the rightful successor should a vacancy of chieftainship arises.

Later, however, the Minister proposed that the issue of the Ovambanderu chief’s successor be subjected to elections within the Ovambanderu community as the Traditional Authorities Act of 2000 also provides.

Chief Keharanjo II and his followers came to see this as the Minister’s back turn on his earlier “resolve” that Keharanjo II should become the successor. Hence the pending case in the courts of law filed last year. It remains to be seen which way this pending case is headed now with the passing on of the first applicant, Keharanjo II?

But as per Kahuure and company, it is clear that this case shall go ahead. One does not see any reason why the case cannot go ahead because whether Keharanjo II is no more or not does not nullify the basis on which the case was filed in the courts of law.

The challenge is whether the Minister made an executive resolve or decision whether, based on the recommendations of his investigating committee, Keharanjo II is the rightful successor to the throne or not.

Similarly, in view of the claim that Keharanjo II is the rightful successor to the throne, axiomatically the same line of succession may apply as to who should succeed him.

If one is to apply this line of succession then the rightful successor to Keharanjo II cannot for sure be Kilus Nguvauva but the next in line to Keharanjo II, his younger brother. Now given this scenario, the end of the chieftaincy struggle is perceivable as inconceivable. PF