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Opinion - Zambezi museum: The region’s historical pride

2021-08-13  Prof Makala Lilemba

Opinion - Zambezi museum: The region’s historical pride

The establishment of a museum in the Zambezi region is long overdue. This process can be blamed on the residents and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture. The residents have been to many parts of the world where museums are operational but failed to transfer this knowledge back home. The ministry equally failed to raise awareness about the pivotal necessity of a museum – thanks to late Dr Jeremy Gale Sylvester and his team, who pioneered the establishment of the museum in the region, which was inaugurated on 18 May 2021 amidst some challenges.


The composition of the museum committee

Before the inauguration, the museum committee operated behind closed doors, and some beneficiaries and local communities were sidelined. It was, therefore, understandable that when members of this committee approached some communities, they faced resistance, as the latter felt not represented. These communities did not comprehend the purpose of a museum being established in Katima Mulilo, instead of bringing the project in their midst if it was to serve as a tourist attraction. 


The artefacts in the museum

The museum was initially meant to house the cultural and environmental artefacts of the region but later on, the liberation legacy and the heroes and heroines from the country and the gravesites of chiefs and other important people in the history of the region were added. Unfortunately, prominent people who contributed greatly to the liberation struggle of Namibia were left out. Yes, the space was not adequate to house all those people but the reality is the non-representation of all groups in the region. The hard fact is that history may not be distorted for a long time, as experience has shown. The European colonisers scrambled for Africa and brought in their ideologies but the owners of the continent reversed some of the things and brought independence to the continent. In the same vein, some people think the heroic deeds of the people from the Western part of Zambezi can be ignored and distorted.


Traditional leaders and royalties

Historically, being part of the Luyana kingdom, important Litungas like Lubosi Lewanika who ruled the region twice (from 1878 – 1884 and 1885 – 1890 when it was named Caprivi and  Imataa Kabaenda to Mamili VII, and from Chikamatondo to one who passed on recently, should find spaces in the museum. 

CAN founders

 Although the photos of veteran Mzee Ndopu and Hon. Muyongo loom large in the museum, it is possible their contemporaries have been left out. This could be attributed to lack of consultations and research on the part of the organisers. This section should be expanded to include the photos of late Prince Mutwa, Hon. Kapelwa Kabajani, Frederick Mazazi, Gideon Mwilima,  Albert Linyunga – to mention just a few. The liberation icon, late Simbwae, should take the centre stage. 


The gallant fallen heroes and heroines

Although few gallant fallen are listed under this heading, many were left out. The list of gallant freedom fighters is incomplete without the inclusion of Maxwell Kulibabika, Judea Lyabboloma Tubakwasa, Induna Masida, Induna Saili and Benjamin Bebi, who sacrificed their lives inside the country. Those who sacrificed their lives in exile should include Boniface Lukato (alias Chasunda), Boniface Kutelo and many others. 


The Kamenga group and the 1978 combatants

In this category, we still have some combatants who are still alive and others who, unfortunately, sacrificed their lives. The group includes veterans Ofesi Chisozu at Singalamwe and late Col. Zebedia Lufumile – to mention just a few. The 1978 combatants should include Boniface Mabuku, the once excellent referee before leaving the country to join the liberation struggle. 


The prison graduates

These freedom fighters were arrested and sent to Pretoria where they served jail sentences and later freed. These would include veterans like Reuben Chataa, Josefa Muyobololo, Joel Mwilima, Society Makumo, Kenneth Kuseka Muloho, and the list is endless.


The Big Seven underground group

This group kept the flame of Swapo burning when the party was banned from operating in the Zambezi Region. It was this group, which kept feeding and disseminating information during those dark and difficult days for Swapo. The members included veteran Charles Lutokwa Sampati (Chairman), Dr Nchabi Kamwi, Norman Lutibezi, late Victor Mabuku, Thaddeus Malumo, Michael Likando and John Lilemba. All these members were subjected to prison terms ranging from six months to one day. Veteran Sampati was detained for six months or more without trial, while Malumo was equally imprisoned for more than three months. Veteran Kamwi was earmarked to be killed on that fateful day, but through the Divine plan was smuggled into Botswana and later joined the liberation struggle. This group has all the rights to be displayed and housed in the museum. 


The cultural artefacts

Zambezi region is one of the richest regions in terms of cultural artefacts. The central part of the region like Kaliyangile is known for carvings like drums, wooden utensils and xylophones and clay pots of Ioma. . Places like Sibbinda and Makanga are good in making traditional kilts (mandi) used in dancing, while Sangwali and Sachona are good with mizyambulo (animal skins kilts). 


Fauna and flora

Although the museum houses some of the types of birds, many are left out. Many species are still roaming the savannahs of the Zambezi region, whose photos need to be brought into the museum.

2021-08-13  Prof Makala Lilemba

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