Otjimana community gears for the inauguration of their chief

WINDHOEK- It is being billed as the mother of all traditional ceremonies. And there’s no mistaking that indeed organisers, descendants and fellow travelers of the Otjimana Royal House, guardian angel of a section of the Ovambanderu and Ovaherero traditional communities, resident mainly in the Epukiro Constituency on the Omaheke Region, are all out to make the inauguration of their chief as historic as it can be and befitting the historicity of the clan.

The Chief, Turimuro Hoveka, is the quintessential young and modern chief among a crop of chiefs who have been emerging as from the late 2000s from among the Ovaherero-Ovambanderu traditional communities, starting with perhaps the first of the youngest, Uaakutjo Kambazembi, of the Royal House of Kambazembi, who in 2007, albeit at the age of 37 years, became the yougest chief. In relative terms, given the age of most chiefs then either in their late fifties, sixties and mid-seventies, 37 years could be deem young. Kutjo as he popularly came to be known, succeeded his old man, the late Chief David Tuvahi Kambazembi. But soon his record as the youngest chief was surpassed by the late Paramount Chief of the Ovambanderu, Keharanjo II Nguvauvau, who in 2008 at the age of only 23 years, succeeded his old man, the late Chief Munjuku 11 Nguvauva.

Only this year, Turimuro Hoveka (49) succeeded his brother, the late Kaveriua Sylvanus Hoveka, who passed on tragically in a car accident while on an official traditional mission of his clan to the region of Omusati, to make submissions to the Council of Traditional Leaders for the official recognition of his clan’s traditional authority.

Normally in the Otjimana/Hoveka community succession to the throne is by any nominee from one of the three clans constituting among the eminent clans of the Otjimana/Hoveka traditional community, namely Hoveka,Kavaka,Kamburona and Tjirimuje. But since 1921 with the enthronement of Chief Nikanor Hoveka, effectively the modern founder of the Otjimana/Hoveka clan, the convention has been to nominate someone from the Hoveka clan. However, this does not mean that the Kavaka, Kamburona and Tjirumuje clans cannot nominate someone, but hitherto there seems to have been consensus among the community to anoint someone from the Hoveka clan. An heir apparent is usually the brother or sister to the deceased or abdicating chief, in the case of resignation. Following the death of Chief Nikanor in 1951 he was succeeded by his brother, Stephanus Hoveka until 1958 when the latter abdicated. The turn fell for the son of Chief Nikanor Hoveka, Gerson Hoveka from 1958 until 1997. Upon his death in 1997 Chief Gerson Hoveka was succeeded by his eldest son, Sylvanus Kaveriua Hoveka, who passed away last November.

And now is the turn of Turimuro Hoveka, son of Chief Gerson Hoveka. Not that he is the first claimant to the throne. His two elder brothers, Steve and Jimmy, declined the throne. It was thus natural that the baton fell for him, the next eldest of the sons after Steve and Jimmy, and thus next natural successor.

Drill parades by the traditional armies of the three Green, Red and White flags, usually a common feature at pilgrims to many holy shrines like Omauezonjanda itself, usually in November, when the Otjimana clan, joined by others well-wishers and cultural-historic fellow travelers, pays homage to their heroes and heroines; Okahandja in August, when the Ovaherero pay homage to among others, erstwhile Ovaherero Paramount Chief,Samuel Maharero; Omaruru in October when the Zeraeua clan pays homage to their ancestors, are among the highlights of the inaurugal ceremony. Traditional dances, Omuhiva and Outjina, male and female respectively, also forms part of the festivities. Not to mention the modern cultural epitome of the Ovaherero-Ovambanderu, the oviritje music genre.

Traditionally, when the broader Ovaherero and Ovambanderu seemed a culturally and traditionally united, monolithic and formidable entity, the inauguration of chiefs was presided over by Chief Maharero. However, in terms of the inauguration of the chiefs of the Otjimana/Hoveka Royal House, no specif precedence or tradition has been established in this regard and consideration is to approach any chief from any traditional community to preside over the inauguration.

But what is the Otjimana/Hoveka traditional community’s claim to royalty? Chief Nikanor Hoveka, grandfather to the designate chief, was the first person to settle in the Epukiro communal area, the modern day Epukiro Constituency in the 1920s. This was after together with Chief Kutako, convinced those who did not flee into exile during the 1904-1904 Ovaherero-German war, and were hiding in the mountains, to come out. It is a section of this people, and those released from Imperial Germany’s concentration camps all over the country then, that he led to Epukiro where he thus became their traditional leader from 1921 till his death in 1951.

Apart from this he was among the first petitioners together with the late Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Hosea Kutako, to the United Nations regarding the question of the independence of Namibia. When the late Chief Sylvanus Kaveriua Hoveka, the predecessor to the currently designated chief, Turimuro Hoveka, acceded to the Otjimana/Hoveka traditional throne, he actively started the campaign for the official recognition of the Otjimana Traditional Authority. Hence his presence in the Omusati region. To date this campaign for recognition continues and certainly the new chief is bound to take on this baton to continue the legacy of his father, Gerson Uiiue Hoveka, who was recognised as a traditional leader by the Apartheid colonial administration in the then South West Africa, and subsequently by the government of the free and independent Republic of Namibia. PF