Oral history, related to Ovambadja people, is an interesting phenomenon, especially when the kingship succession is considered. Ovambadja/Aambadja are a unique sub-tribe of Aawambo people in northern Namibia, who are well known for inhabiting the area called ‘Okalongo’ today. Given the colonial formation and interpretation of the collection of kingdoms as countries in Africa, the name ‘Okalongo’ actually means ‘a small country/kingdom’; it is a historical fact that African people never lived in countries as colonialists put it – instead, they lived as communities in beautiful kingdoms led by Eehamba/Aakwaniilwa as ultimate rulers and symbols of final authorities of such kingdoms. The concept of countries that we are forced to embrace today through the Roman-Dutch law were and are still alien to Africa today.
Before the colonial expansion of white people, especially the English people in the area we know as Namibia today and the Portuguese colonialists in the area known as Angola today, who are the main agents in the events that saw the invention of colonial borders between Namibia and Angola, the Aambadja people had two palaces, namely ‘Ombala yaNaluheke’ and ‘Ombala yaMhungu’.
Due to colonial expansion of borders, all these respected palaces are today demarcated as Angola. it is now obvious that Okalongo and the whole area of southern Angola today, including some parts of Ombaanhu kingdom, stretching to Oukwanyama kingdom to the land of Kavango people, had been delinked from one another – not only as part of what we know as southern Angola today but the colonial exercise ensured the division of these kingdoms into two sides of both Angola and Namibia, creating serious contradictions in terms of political and economic leadership for these kingdoms. All these are due to colonial dispossession, as we live in a strange and polarised world of colonial borders in the making.
Oral history has revealed that ‘Ombala yaNaluheke’ (The palace of Naluheke), was established around the 17th century by the ‘Aakwanahungi’ clan of Ovambadja people, led by King Naunyango waNaipuluta. The term ‘Ovambadja vaNaushona’ is derived from King Naushona waNanghombo’s name to whom the Ovambadja are attributed today.
Oral History reveals that Ombala yaNaluheke has been so far led by seventeen kings as follows: Ohamba/King Naushona waNghombo was succeeded by King Nedu laHangula, followed by King Haha-Haha, followed by King Mweengwayengwa, followed by King Kalipi kaHashitumbo, followed by King Fuma Lekuwa, who was then followed by King Moongela waShingeya.
It is often a common attribution to Ovambadja females as ‘Eenhana daMoongela with reference to King Moongela waShingeya. King Moongela was followed by King Hohwela, followed by King Namnuka, followed by King Naunyango waNaipuluta, followed by King Nambinga yaShihwa, who was then followed by controversial King Haikela yaNamanyungu. There is a street in Outapi town of the Ombaanhu Kingdom that was named after him.
King Haikela yaNamanyungu was succeeded by King Shekudja shaHamukangu, followed by King Shahula shaHamadila, followed by King Vaefeni yaNdjebela, followed by King Shikongo shaMutumbulwa, who was succeeded by King Justino Kambungo kaMweulinale.
Oral history from recent generations reveals that King Nambiya yaShihwa unlawfully took over the palace after the death of King Naunyango waNaipuluta at Ekuni, creating anger between King Nambiya’s half-brother Haikela yaNamanyungu and Nambiya himself because it was already planned that Haikela would succeed King Naunyango waNaipuluta.
Haikela organised and strategised a coup to overthrow his brother Nambiya and succeeded to take over the throne by killing his brother.
It was during King Haikela’s reign when the Portuguese firstly attacked the Ombadja Kingdom via ‘Ondobe yOfinge’ in 1891. King Haikela yaNamanyungu led Ovambadja via Ombala yaNaluheke for a longer period of time; oral history reminds us that he had his grandchildren whom he instructed to take care of the whole kingdom during his older days as a ruler when he could no longer reach out due to his old age condition. Such grandchildren included Mutukulwa waHauwanga, Shekudja Hamakunde and Shuudeni shaShinana.
King Haikela died in 1895; it is narrated that Shekudja shaHamakunde succeeded his grandfather King Haikela but his reign only lasted few months before he encountered a psychiatric disorder, which led him to commit suicide by burning himself in a hut.
King Shekudja was then replaced by King Shahula shaHamadila in 1896 during whose reign the Ombadja Kingdom encountered the second wave of the historic war with the Portuguese, which he claimed ultimate victory at ‘Evelo laPembe’ on 25 September 1904 and at ‘Omwandi wEendadi’, which led to the collapse of the whole Kingdom of Ombadja.
It is alleged that the Portuguese expansion war in what we call Angola today was responsible for dissolving and dispossession of the Ombadja Kingdom, which expanded the borders further into what we call Namibia today. The result and signatures of polarisation we see Ovambadja, Aambaanhu and Aakwanyama in both Namibia and Angola today were entrenched by Portuguese and German colonialists.
After the death of King Shahula shaHamadila, there were conflicts over the succession of Ombala yaNaluheke – and later on, King Vaefeni yaNdjebela was installed by the Aakwanahungi clan at the end of the year, estimated 1914, but his reign only lasted a month before he was overthrown by the Portuguese forces; he was succeeded by King Shikongo shaMutumbulwa, whose ultimate death was recorded around 1954. King Shikongo was succeeded by the 17th King of Ombadja Kingdom, Justino Kambungo kaMweulinale, who died on 23 September 2005.
The Ovambadja history of colonial struggle has been highly ignored by the current government, as it did not form part of the written school curriculum of the Namibian history.
* Shivute Kaapanda is a Pan-African writer, a columnist and an author of the book called ‘The Conscious Republic’. He is from Eyanda village, Omusati region.