OvaMbanderu commomerate the Battle of Otjunda

OKAHANDJA: Hundreds of OvaMbanderu people gathered here on Sunday to commemorate the Battle of Otjunda in 1896 and execution of Chief Kahimemua Nguvauva at Okahandja on 12 June 1896.

The OvaMbanderu people, clad in their predominantly green attire, flocked to Okahandja to honour and pay tribute to the martyrs of the war against German oppression.

These martyrs include Kahimemua and Nicodemus Kavikunua.

Kahimemua led his OvaMbanderu community in resistance against German colonial occupation in battles at Gobabis, Namdas and Otjunda in the Omaheke Region in the 1890s.

It was at Otjunda in 1896 when the decisive battle took place, which also led to the defeat of these gallant fighters.

Kahimemua was captured and tortured at Kalkfontein and taken by the German forces as a prisoner to Okahandja, where he and Kavikunua were brutally executed by a German firing squad on 12 June 1896.

The commemoration started at about 06h00 with traditional rituals, a parade of troops and horses en route to the OvaHerero Heroes’ Acre in Okahandja, where Nguvauva and other OvaMbanderu heroes are buried.

The event was attended by among others Minister of Presidential Affairs, Frans Kapofi on behalf of President Hage Geingob, and chiefs from the Maharero, Kambazembi, Mafwe and Zeraeua royal houses.

Those who spoke during the event underscored unity as a befitting honour to the martyrs who were crucified for this country.

OvaMbanderu Chief Kilus Nguvauva, who addressed the gathering for the first time as chief, indicated that the Traditional Authority would like “to turn a new page” by concentrating on the unification of the OvaMbanderu community.

He said his Traditional Authority will also concentrate on establishing a community trust fund and expediting dialogue between the Namibian and German Governments and the affected communities towards restorative justice for atrocities committed by the colonial German Government since 1896.

Mayor of Okahandja, Valerie Aron, said their ancestors did not fight on tribal lines or for self-interest, but fought for the common purpose of each and every person in the Namibian society.

“They only had one purpose – to guard against division and loss of their precious commodity, which is land,” she said.

Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa, said the commemoration serves as a day to draw inspiration, courage and wisdom from the heroic deeds and sacrifices of the heroes and heroines whom they pay homage to at the event.

“Let us emulate the heroic lives of our heroes by rededicating ourselves to actively participate fully in the national development programmes and activities aimed at bringing about improvement in the lives of all our people,” she said.

The commemoration coincided with the unveiling of a tombstone for the late Acting Chief of the OvaMbanderu community, Peter Nguvauva, who died in 2010.

It took about one month and half for Peter to find a resting place alongside former OvaMbanderu heroes due to lengthy court hearings, family feuds and divisions that had caused the repeated postponement of his funeral.

The annual commemoration of the Battle of Otjunda has been cancelled for the past seven years due to infighting within the OvaMbanderu community.

The community has been deeply divided for several years because of a dispute over a new tribal constitution, which the group under OvaMbanderu senior councillor, Erastus Kahuure, did not accept. The matter went as far as the Supreme Court.

The split over succession to the Mbanderu throne deepened when the long-serving Chief Munjuku II Nguvauva died in January 2008. He was buried at Okahandja next to Kahimemua.

Two of Munjuku’s sons – Deputy Works and Transport Minister, Kilus Nguvauva, and his younger half-brother, Keharanjo Nguvauva – both claim to be the rightful successor to the chieftaincy.

Keharanjo committed suicide in 2010.

After several years of court battles, the court last year ruled in favour of Kilus and he was inaugurated as the chief of the OvaMbanderu.

Munjuku’s wife, Aletta Nguvauva, and her supporters were not present during the commemoration on Sunday as they were at Ongango in the Kunene Region to unveil the tombstone of her son, the late Keharanjo.

A section of the community still regards Aletta as the legitimate chief of the OvaMbanderu.