Monday this week, 8th April, marked another anniversary of the sad passing of Ovambanderu Paramount Chief Keharanjo Nguvauva.
True to tradition, the NBC’s Otjiherero service played Oviritje songs that reminded the nation of the departure of this young man, who promised so much to this nation yet departed abruptly.
Ovambanderu have known difficult times. During the wars of German annihilation King Kahimemua Nguvauva and his people fought several battles, notably the Battle of Otjunda in 1896. During this battle King Kahimemua was wounded and retreated to Omukuruvaro, east of present day Epukiro, close to Otjozondjima, from where he gave himself over to the German forces and was led to Okahandja on foot by the German troops, tied onto the neck of a horse, where he was along with Mbahahiza Kavikunua, executed by firing squad, reportedly with the concurrence of and in full view of Samuel Maharero, latter then, Ovaherero Paramount Chief.
These experiences triggered the exodus of Ovambanderu to Botswana under the leadership of the stalwart Hijatuvao Nguvauva, following firm directives from King Kahimemua during a ritual at Omukuruvaro, shortly before his arrest.
Ovambanderu have the established tradition of not addressing or referring to King Kahimemua by name; they call him Hija-Kungairi, after his son Kungairi, who had fallen at the Battle of Otjunda, along with his younger brother, Tuvirire. Hija-Kungairi was born of Nguvauva the son of Munjuku the son of Tjozohongo, who in turn was the son of Katua ka Kainakuva. Kainakuva was the son of Tjiute, the son of Tjondjou. Keharanjo hails from a strong revolutionary heritage and it is against this backdrop that Ovambanderu have along the way earmarked him as heir-apparent to their throne.
In time, the Nguvauva dynasty came to be locked in a hefty dispute that led to a seeming rift in the community.
Keharanjo first featured in public at the funeral of his father, Munjuku II Nguvauva in Okahandja. He slightly stepped on the edge of conventional protocol when he, during the King’s stately funeral, moved forward after the director of the program had concluded the proceedings.
Keharanjo stepped forward from behind the stage and took the floor, much to the amazement of the mourners and in the voice of a maturing school boy he said, somewhat timidly with minimum adherence to conventional etiquette: “I want to ask all of you here today that if my father ever did anything wrong to you, please forgive him”.
The mourners sat motionless watching the reaction of the program director, who was equally taken by surprise and lost for words.
My eyes followed the boy’s insecure movement. He walked away as if yearning for attention, wishing that someone would whisk him close and hug him tightly.
There was none and for a moment he stood alone before he moved further to join a group of youngsters who stood next to a Volkswagen City Golf. His little sister Tjizembua hugged him with tears in her eyes and a friend handed him a can of some drink.
I thought of his mother as the only person who could cuddle him and pat him on the shoulder, in these circumstances of internal tensions in the dynasty that were fast developing into some cut throat and unforgiving environment.
But she could not because as tradition prescribed, she was covered in black and sat motionless next to the coffin and the closest she came to her son was to hear his voice through the loud hailer.
Keharanjo stormed the stage of Namibia’s traditional politics rather unceremoniously and in the end he exited in the same way. In his official public life he was a very collected, disciplined and highly intelligent young man who carried the potential to contribute enormously to the future of this great nation that yearns so much for good and committed leadership.
But like folks of his generation, he enjoyed life after dark at places like Chez Ntemba and the Herero Mall, at which places many persons of his age went to also enjoy his popular company.
But amid all these he displayed the characteristics of a laid back, non-abrasive person, who presented himself as highly calculating and communicated to most in a style that left the impression of someone who had meditated all the words that he expressed.
Keharanjo’s sudden departure left many things hanging and this did not contribute much to bridging the fast expanding gap in the Ovambanderu community.
Even more, he surprised those in the know about the way he had crafted his funeral arrangements and the extent to which his parting notes had been pointed. One would only hope that someone close to the dynasty will one day sit down and write a fitting tribute to this child, who promised so much to his people and to the nation and, in the end, left a contested legacy.
2019-04-10 09:21:04 9 days ago