• May 29th, 2020

Ancestral land in its correct perspective

Benestus Kandundu

In the early 1850s two explorers, Galton and Anderson landed at Walvis Bay from where they travelled to Otjimbingwe (correct name Otjivingue) and later on to Otjikango (now known as Gross Barmen) where they befriended the founder of the Rhenish mission station there, Rev. Carl Hugo Hahn.  
In March 1851 they left for the famous Waterberg mountain surrounding the main homestead of Chief Kambazembi via Otjamangombe as the explorers called the place, although its proper name is Otjozongombe. This place was also one of Chief Kambazembi’s main cattle posts.  

During their exploratory expedition they discovered the mountain dwelling Damara people who had long established settlements in Otjozondjupa. 
These early exploration trips widened international knowledge of previously little-known regions.  They also had the result of attracting church missions, and later of the German government, in search of prestigious colonies and opportunities to exploit resources.

In 1871, the Rev. C.H Hahn journeyed to the Waterberg.   At that time Rev. Gottlieb Viehe was stationed at the Omaruru mission station, an area under the jurisdiction of the traditional leader, Chief Zeraeua.  Both visited Chief Kambazembi at Ozombu Zondjara (fountain of hunger). 
For the locals this was the first time they learnt of Christianity.  They were unaware that welcoming the missionaries might later become a pretext for a colonial intrusion. 

The explorers quickly learnt that Chief Kambazembi was one of the wealthiest at that time and a strategy was to befriend the traditional leader, then convert him to Christianity.  Chief Kambazembi had over 60 000 heads of cattle grazing in the vicinities of Otjenga, Omuverumue (Waterberg mountain), Ja-Kabaka (Okavaka) mountain, Oruheke River, Ombotosu (Ombotozu) mountain and Lake Otjimbonde (Omambonde). The entire Otjozondjupa was ruled by Chief Kambazembi. 
In 1876 the Rev. Brincker established a mission station at Okavaka in Otjozondjupa from which the mountain Damara could be administered.  Studies were undertaken on how the mountain Damara survived in arid environments.  Over the next decade, German traders replaced earlier explorers.  
In 1884, the German flag was officially hoisted over the territory.

Rev. Eich was granted permission by Chief Kambazembi on 13 May 1891 to establish a community of Christians as a congregation of Okandjoze with permission granted to settle at Otjozondjupa. This land was given as a token of peace and a welcoming gesture.   Those who wanted to participate and thereby benefit could do so freely.  

It was never intended for the German colonisers to own large tracks of land.   “Christianity” appeared to open up the native people to selling their land, and entering into dubious treaties. 

On 21 October 1899 a postal office was established at Otjozondjupa and Rev. Eich had the responsibility to operate the post office. This was then used as the method to send information to the imperial government and in turn to receive colonization instructions to colonize the locals.   Rev Eich took it also upon himself to change the name Otjozondjupa to Waterberg and after a year the postal office was taken over by the commercial business entity, Wecke and Voigts, to run and administer. The strategy to keep the information flowing with the imperials was perpetuated.
Other ancestral land north-east of Okavitumbika

The cattle post at Okanjande had insufficient spring water.   Chief Kambazembi dug for water successfully from the Omuramba River so people moved there and called it Otjiuarongo (Otjiwarongo).

In 1895, without the knowledge and consent of Chief Kambazembi, a treaty was signed between the South West Africa Company with one of Chief Kambazembi’s sons, Kaunjonjua Kambazembi, to settle debt.  

Kanjunga (Kaunjonjua) gave the company the areas today known as Grootfontein, Otavi and Otjikoto, all grazing areas used by Chief Kambazembi during the drier seasons of over 1,300 sq. km.  This action resulted in Ovaherero people being forced to vacate those areas in 1896. Salatiel Kambazembi was never involved in dubious land deals.

In this uncertain time, Ovaherero were deeply concerned by the action of the above-mentioned company.  Ironically Chief Kambazembi now had to get permission from government and SWACO to graze his livestock during the dry season and when permission was granted it came at a price, being payment in livestock. 
Ancestral Land and How German Colonizers Took This Land
In this way Chief Kambazembi, the Kambazembi royal family members (Onguatjiundu) and Ovaherero lost ancestral land.
Chief Kambazembi and his subjects lost land as result of the extermination order by Lieutenant-General Von Trotha–
The northern border of the territory of Chief Kambazembi extended to Namutoni.  A good relationship existed between Chief Kambazemi and the neighbouring King Nehale.  There was no land dispute, borders were recognised.  The area was used during certain seasons by his livestock for grazing at the cattle posts of Otavi, Okombahe, Otjamukuju, Orupupa, and Grootfontein (Otjivanda).  It was specifically reserved to use during drought.

With all the afore-mentioned information and evidence that no one will argue about, ancestral land rightfully belongs to dispossessed Namibians.  It is this very land that started the 1904-1908 genocide war.
Benestus Kandundu is a member of the Kambazembi Royal House (Onguatjiundu).

Staff Reporter
2018-12-07 10:43:16 | 1 years ago

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