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Opinion: Tribute to my late teacher

2020-01-20  Staff Reporter

Opinion: Tribute to my late teacher

Dr Paulinus Haingura

Almost at the end of last year, I had the opportunity and honour to attend the burial of my former teacher and mentor, one of the illustrious leaders of the Kavango East Region, from a redoubtable (royal) family. One may as well begin by saying the following to Hompa Shiyambi, wherever he finds himself right now: “I am what I am (today) because of you”. 

The story of Hompa Shiyambi is one of great leadership, starting as a school teacher – and of humility and heroism as a king (hompa). Permit me to briefly reflect on his role as my former teacher and mentor in the formative years of my education at Nyondo Primary School. 

I started school at a young age, due to the influence of my maternal uncle who was a catechist (katekete). Nevertheless, I had to spend a couple of years in Hompa Shiyambi’s class, which was then called Sub-standard A. He kept me in his class until 1970, his final year of being a teacher, even though I had the capacity to progress, because, as he used to say, I was too “young” to progress to the next level. It was only in 1971, after he became acting hompa of the Vagciriku that I was allowed to proceed to Sub-standard B, a class which was taught by his younger brother Mr Gelasius Shigweda. In 1972, I progressed to Standard 1, and in 1973 to standard 2, taught by Mr Venantius Matamu, who was affectionately known as Kapokona.   

Afterwards, in 1974, I went to the Nyangana Roman Catholic Mission Station. From there, I progressed to Linus Shashipapo Secondary School. I then had a brief stint as a student at Mashare Agricultural College, and subsequently attended Rundu Senior Secondary School where I simultaneously obtained both my teacher’s and matric certificates, viz. the Education Certificate Primary (ECP) and National Senior Certificate (NSC) in 1985. 

After that, I had a brief stint as an underqualified teacher at Max Makushe Secondary School. In 1988, nonetheless, I decided to go for full-time studies at the University of the Western Cape (Cape Town), the very same institution where I subsequently obtained my doctorate. As a scholar of linguistics, I had been privy to some of the salient issues with regard to the (throne) succession of the Vagciriku chieftainship through my PhD research. In my research study, I found that the current state of affairs relating to the Gciriku (throne) succession is primarily dictated by insignificant criteria established under the influence of Roman Catholic missionaries, working hand-in-hand with the erstwhile South African apartheid regime.  

As far as the Vagciriku (throne) succession is concerned, the notion of naming a successor was introduced by the Roman Catholic missionaries during Hompa Nyangana’s reign when they forced him to name a successor. In this respect, he mentioned the name of his nephew Linyando Tjimi, the son of one of his younger sisters, Kandambo, since he only had one wife. Unfortunately, Linyando Tjimi predeceased Hompa Nyangana, and upon the missionaries’ persistence, he had to mention the name of Kamutuva Weka Shamate, the son of Tjimi’s younger sister Shidona, since he was a Christian. He was by then baptised as Josef Shamate. 

However, with Shidona’s wisdom, Shampapi Haingura, commonly known as Kuworoma, also one of Nyangana’s nephews, the son of his other younger sister, Katiku, became a hompa. Unfortunately, Kuworoma had to abdicate the throne due to the manipulation by the former South African colonial regime represented by a ‘Native Commissioner’ who wanted his younger brother, Linus Shashipapo, who was by then a teacher and later a policeman, to succeed him. Under pressure from the ‘Native Commissioner’, Hompa Shampapi Haingura was forced to flee his country (present-day Namibia), and settle in neighbouring Angola. 

This has led to bad blood between the two siblings, as according to Vagciriku culture, one cannot succeed a sitting hompa (to the throne) while that person is still alive. Linus Shashipapo was succeeded by Sebastian Kamwanga, who was in turn succeeded by Kassian Shiyambi. Allow me to end my tribute with one of the songs that Hompa Shiyambi taught us:
Rutu rwendi nye mumbira, rutu rwendi nye mumbira, rutu rwendi nye mumbira, mwenyo gwendi ta gu zi. Ngaka kara muporosi gwahompa, ngaka kara muporosi gwahompa, 
ngaka kara muporosi gwahompa, mwenyo gwendi ta gu zi.

May his soul rest in eternal peace!

PS: A critical analysis of the Gciriku (throne) succession can be read in Haingura, P. (2017). 
A Critical Evaluation of the Development of Rumanyo as a National Language in Namibia. 
Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of the Western Cape (available on request). Likewise, a 
detailed narrative on this topic is found in Fleisch, A. & Möhlig, J.G. (eds.). (2002). The Kavango 
Peoples in the Past. Local Historiogrpahies From Northern Namibia. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe.

2020-01-20  Staff Reporter

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