Descendants of a man, who died 21 years ago, have been left helpless after a senior headman of the Ondonga Traditional Authority allegedly decided to side with a woman who recently surfaced to claim their piece of land.
The matter, which started a few months ago, seems to be a case of an ugly face of ancient tradition that refused to recognise the rights of children over their paternal family wealth.
The ancient culture dictated that Aawambo children are excluded from their fathers’ wealth, which is normally shared among the men’s siblings and his sisters’ children.
The mahangu field in question is in Emono village of Onayena constituency, where Shikongo Nikodemus Kambangula, his wife and 14 children, lived before he died in 1999. The land is allegedly located at a prime area, where some of the traditional leaders once attempted to swindle the family out of their land to build a fuel service station. Over two decades after Shikongo’s death, his sister, who has been residing in Kavango all along, allegedly reappeared, claiming rights over the land.
“She said we must go back to our [maternal] family because we are descendants of a man, so we are not family. She is fighting over the land where we lived with our parents and has been registered in their names for close to 30 years,” said Magano Kambangula, one of Shikongo’s daughters.
The Shikongo children allegedly approached the office of the Onayena constituency councillor, including Marx Nekongo and his successor Natangwe Indongo, who understood their plight and tried to intervene.
However, their interventions were all in vain. “I can confirm that Shikongo’s orphans are not being treated fairly and they have been denied justice. I tried to intervene by speaking to Tatekulu Joseph Asino and Nicky Uugwanga, who were both chief administrators at Ondonga Traditional Authority at different times, but nothing was done,” said Indongo.
When contacted for comment, Asino, who is currently in the office, claimed he was not aware of the matter and he does not know the concerned people.
“Are they going to get justice by coming to New Era? Tell them to come to my office,” he said. Shikongo’s younger daughter Hileni Kambangula, however, maintained they have sat with Asino at least four times.
“Initially, [with] Tate Joseph Asino, who seemed to understand our plight. We were, however, shocked when he turned against us. We went to his office to hear how far he was with our case. He then told us to wait outside but while waiting, our headmen walked in. After a while, Tate Asino called us back to his office and told us to leave because we were liars. We came back the following day but we were met by the security guard, who told us we were not allowed to enter the traditional authority’s offices,” explained Kambangula.
The siblings have also tried to reach out to Omukwaniilwa Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo but no one was allegedly willing to give them information on how they can schedule an appointment. History has it that the concerned piece of land originally belonged to Shikongo’s mother, who died in 1992.
The ownership of the same land has since been changed three times, at different periods – from Shikongo, then his widow and eventually his son. The three former owners are now all deceased. But an attempt by the siblings to have the land ownership transferred to the name of Hileni Kambangula – one of Shikongo’s eight children who are presently residing at that village homestead – was met with hostility.
Shikongo surfaced 28 years after the death of her mother, claiming rights over the land.
The siblings have since approached the Ombudsman office in Ongwediva for assistance and they are still waiting for answers. Meanwhile, Shikongo’s sister has cut off a portion of land and has since started construction work allegedly with the permission of one of the headmen. Attempts to reach her proved futile, while her daughter declined to comment when approached for comment.