President Hage Geingob has come under scrutiny this week after information emerged that he will attend the Centenary Commemoration of Ovakwanyama King Mandume Ya Ndemufayo this weekend despite having “snubbed” the Damara cultural festival last year.
Talks are rife within the public domain that members belonging to the minority Namibian tribes feel left out by Geingob due to his attendance at Ya Ndemufayo’s commemoration.
It is alleged that the president’s attendance of the event will be confirmation that he (Geingob) values majority more than the minority tribes. This perception has come as a result of Geingob’s no-show at Gaob Festival last year, an event viewed by many as equally important as the Ya Ndemufayo Centenary commemoration that the president is set to attend.
Speaking in defence of the President, Press Secretary Albertus Aochumub clarified that Geingob pulled out of the event [Damara festival] at the last hour after learning that the Gaob Festival was not officially “recognised”.
“The President cancelled the attendance at the last minute when he realised that Gaob Garoeb was not officially recognised,” added Aochamub.
Moreover, Aochumub further added that Geingob hopes that Gaob will officially be recognised by the relevant authorities to enable him to attend this year’s event.
“The President’s Office is seized with the matter and hopes that a resolution will be found sooner rather than later by the relevant Minister,” concluded Aochamub.
Former heads of state in the form of founding father Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba are expected to join Geingob at the centenary commemorations this weekend.
The centenary commemoration is set to take place from 3 and 6 February at Omhedi village in the Ohangwena region and at Oihole in neighbouring Angolan province of Cunene. According to the event programme published in various media outlets by the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority, Geingob will be among the keynote speakers alongside Ovakwanyama Queen Kristiaan Ya Nelumbu on 4 February.
At the commemoration this weekend, Aochamub said Geingob is likely to call on all Namibians to “unite” in his keynote address this weekend.
“The President is likely to continue his call for unity of all Namibians and that we pull in the same direction. We have to celebrate our diversity in unity and resist efforts of aimed at dividing us along tribal lines,” said Aochumub.
At last year’s Gaob Festival, Damara king Justus //Garoëb urged the Damara people to maintain unity in the face of national challenges to the benefit of all.
In the past, however, //Garoëb was criticised by Geingob for his perception that it was time for the Damara people to “eat”, as Geingob – who belongs to the tribe – was occupying the highest office in the country.
Speaking at the Gaob Festival last year, former Land Reform Deputy Minister Bernadus Swartbooi called on Damaras to unite with other ethnic groups who suffered loss due to unjust governance in the past.
According The Namibian, Swartbooi was quoted saying that Damaras, Ovaherero and Namas lost over 50 million hectares of land to the Germans and South Africans. Swartbooi also criticised government’s efforts to reclaim land saying it was not enough to make up the losses.
According to records, King Ya Ndemufayo was born in 1894 and died in combat on February 6, 1917 (100 years ago). Ya Ndemufayo took over the Kwanyama kingdom in 1911 and his reign lasted for six years. The exact cause of Ya Ndemufayo’s death remains somewhat a mystery, as those in the know argue that he died of either suicide by shooting himself in the head or by machine gun fire.
King Ya Ndemufayo was the last king of the Ovakwanyama people, a subset of the Aawambo in the southern parts of Angola and northern Namibia. To add on, Ya Ndemufayo is a celebrated hero in both Namibia and Angola with various honours to his name.
In Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, the Mandume Ya Ndemufayo Lower Primary School was named in his honour while the Universidade Mandume Ya Ndemufayo (Mandume Ya Ndemufayo University) opened its doors back in 1963 in Lubango, Angola.
At this year’s centenary commemoration of King Mandume, President Geingob will unveil a three-dimensional (3-D) statue of Ya Ndemufayo.