From left: President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Founding President Dr. Sam Nujoma, Chief Kisco Liswani III and Chief Boniface Shufu
‘Culture is our heritage,’ Chief Liswani lll
‘Why does everything stop at Linyanti Village only?’ Chief Shufu
Chief threatens to withdraw his subjects from voting in regional elections if trend continues
By Asser Ntinda
Bukalo and Sangwali palaces in the Caprivi Region became a hive of activities last weekend as the two traditional authorities hosted their annual cultural festivals on Saturday and Sunday respectively, showcasing some of their skilled cultural dancers in stylish fashion.
But the chiefs of the two traditional authorities did not only use the two occasions to pride themselves in their cultural heritage, but they also vented their anger and frustrations over some of the issues that affected their communities. One of them threatened to withdraw his subjects from voting in future regional elections and only vote in Presidential and National Assembly elections, if the same trend continued.
Chief Liswani lll took issues with New Era over an advert that appeared in the paper some three weeks ago, saying that it was meant to divide his authority in the area of his jurisdiction, coming as it did to coincide with the Masubia Annual Cultural Festival.
The advert, lifted from a commission report of the then Bechuanaland Protectorate Government by two individuals (names provided), showed the hierarchy succession and line of chiefs of the Masubia people in Namibia and Botswana. The advert alleged that the Masubia Chieftainship in Namibia was “illegitimate” because it descended from a female line of chiefs.
The Masubia had a female chief some 200 years ago, known as Chief Ntolwa Malyansanzwe. Chief Lishwani lll said he was proud about that historic fact but in way did it mean that the Masubia Chieftainship was illegitimate.
“These two individuals had ill intentions….” Said Chief Lishwani lll in his statement. “Let me tell them that even if that were the case, we would even be more proud of that fact, for there is absolutely nothing wrong in descending from a female chief.
“There is no conflict between or competition over chieftainship between the Basubiya of Namibia and those of Botswana as implied in the said New Era advert…. We will not permit the tribal conflict in Caprivi to spill into Botswana and affect our people there and in the process affect the excellent diplomatic relationship between our two countries.”
Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia and Chief Moffat Nkonkwena Maiba Sinvula of the Basubiya in Botswana attended the Cultural Festival at Bukalo, and their presence, Chief Liswani lll said, meant that there was neither competition nor conflict between the two traditional authorities.
Turning on to culture, Chief Liswani lll said the festival was meant to celebrate the heritage their ancestors had bequeathed on the people, which defined their identity as a people, as well as their spatial identity.
“We also celebrate the recent past and take pride in the fact that Namibia is independent for nearly 20 years, that it is at peace with itself, and its neighbours, and most importantly, that we significantly contributed to the attainment of independence without compromise or wavering,” said Chief Liswani lll.
At Sangwali, more anger was to come. Chief Boniface Shufu of the Mayeyi Community said that his people were faced with various development challenges which he felt the regional leadership had contributed to or just turned a blind eye on purpose. He said that it was sad to know that the Katima Linyanti, Sangwali and Kongola water pipeline stopped at Kapani in 2007, and had been diverted to other places that were not in the original plan.
“This is indeed a sad story for us the Mayeyi Community, and this is despite that we, among others, have given our votes to the Regional Councilor of Linyanti Constituency,” said Chief Shufu.
“We still recall that when telephone lines were connected, they only ended at Linyanti village, the same goes with rural electrification, it also ended at the same village, leaving us in limbo and isolation as if the Mayeyi people did not exist in this region.”
Chief Shufu noted with happiness that the tarring of Katima-Linyanti-Sangwali-Kongola-Singalamwe road started last and was progressing well, but he had learned with disappointment that the tarring of that road would end at Linyanti again, and start at Kongola.
Sangwali is part of Linyanti Constituency, but the Chief said there was no development in this part of Linyanti Constituency, apart from the construction of the Linyanti Constituency Office. Chief Shufu challenged Regional Governor, Leonard Mwilima, to show any development projects that had reached the Mayeyi Community, if any.
“All these things are happening in broad day light and in the eyes of the Linyanti Constituency Councilor, Doroth Kabula, who was elected by us,” said Chief Shufu. “One of the good days the Mayeyi Community will stop participating in Regional Elections but only in National Assembly and Presidential Elections if things and development continue to go to others only.”
Both President Pohamba and Founding President Nujoma appealed for unity, adding that Namibians should acknowledge the existence of traditional authorities. President Pohamba said that the SWAPO Party government recognized the vital role traditional authorities play, particularly as custodians of traditional values and customs.
“We will continue to count on the wisdom of our traditional leaders in addressing disputes within communities,” said President Pohamba. “When such challenges are addressed amicably, it is a clear demonstration of our policy of national reconciliation.
“It also demonstrates our commitment to work in unity of purpose to address common challenges. When we hold hands and march together, we can conquer all threats and overcome obstacles that may stand in our way towards Vision 2030.
“Remember, united we stand and divided we fall. Therefore, unity must often be our guiding principle and should be pursued with vigour and determination at national, regional and even tribal and village levels. Unity must always be our source of strength. We must at all material times continue to preserve this most powerful weapon.”
Founding President Nujoma called on the communities in Caprivi Region to unite and work together for the common cause of the Namibian people, saying that people should regard themselves as Namibians first and everything else second.
“I am disappointed by the inter-tribal conflict in the Caprivi Region where members of the communities fight over the land,” he said in one of his statements. “These conflicts are not in line with the Constitution of the country. They have a potential to disturb peace and political stability and derail socio-economic development. I believe that traditional leaders should work with the government to maintain peace in our communities.
“At the same time, we should learn how to solve conflicts peacefully and amicably, and forge ahead with national development. We must first of all think of ourselves as a nation and not as tribe, in that way we can build a strong and united nation under the motto ‘One Namibia, One Nation.’”