Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) chairperson Vipuira Kapuuo yesterday cleared the air surrounding the Ovaherero chieftainship, saying he is now acting chief of the community until a substantive paramount chief is elected.
Unlike in many traditional authorities, where succession occurs in the bloodline, the authority’s chiefs’ council elects the OTA paramount chief after extensive consultation with the community.
“Let me make this clear. It has been our custom – when paramount chief Clemens Kapuuo died, chairperson Gerson Hoveka acted in that position. Again, when Riruako died, deputy paramount chief Tumbee Tjombe acted in that position. Now that Rukoro is no more, I, as the chairperson of the chiefs’ council, will automatically act in the position until a new chief is elected,” Kapuuo explained on radio yesterday, while calling for unity in his community.
“At times like this, unity is key – even to those who are not in talking terms. Death unites people. Let us unite.”
Meanwhile, the OTA on Tuesday wrote to both secretary to Cabinet George Simataa and health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula, requesting for the postponement of the late paramount chief advocate Vekuii Rukoro’s burial to 18 July.
In the letter, OTA spokesperson Mutjinde Katjiua said since 1923, when the community reburied the remains of the second paramount chief, Samuel Maharero, in Okahandja next to the first paramount chief, Maharero ua Tjamuaha, it has become an established custom that all paramount chiefs are to be buried in Okahandja, in accordance with the set traditional practices and protocols.
“We buried the third and fourth paramount chiefs, Hosea Kutako and Clemens Kapuuo, in the same manner, with the same sense of dignity at Okahandja. We also buried the fifth paramount chief, Kuaima Riruako, at the same Heroes’ Shrine within the parameters of our culture and traditions, including a minimum of a month mourning period,” Katjiua sided as among reasons for the postponement.
He said it is indeed impractical for them to bury the late Rukoro within the allotted seven days as prescribed by Covid-19 protocols.
According to Katjiua, the mourning period will also allow the authority to carry out all the necessary rituals as dictated by tradition and customs in addition to engaging the whole Ovaherero policy across Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and elsewhere in the diaspora.
Also, Katjiua, in a separate letter, informed Simataa that the OTA accepted the honour of the state funeral as conferred by President Hage Geingob to the late Rukoro.
However, he requested that the costs that are ordinarily carried by the state, in respect of such a funeral, rather be directed to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Ovaherero shall be responsible for the burial arrangements of our beloved paramount chief and the cost associated with that,” Katjiua said in a letter to Simataa this week.