King Elifas: 44-year reign ends

26 March 2019 | Cultural

Omukwaniilwa Immanuel Kauluma Elifas, who died early this morning in a northern hospital, was the one of the longest serving leaders of the Ondonga kingdom, having ascended to the throne in August 1975. He served for 44 years as the king of the Ondonga community. The late Elifas also served for many years as chairperson of the Council of Traditional Leaders. However, in recent years, the kingdom has been rocked by infighting linked to the succession battle. Elifas had named his nephew Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo as his successor in 2002. This nomination was also confirmed to government in June 2012. Nangolo’s nomination was, however, disputed by the royal family. This led to irreconcilable differences, which saw Elifas getting rid of some of his long-serving top aides, who have been backing Nangolo as heir apparent. In July 2017, Elifas dismissed the late former Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA) chairperson Peter Kauluma and former OTA spokesperson Joseph Asino. Heavyweights such as senior headman John Walenga and former Oshikoto governor Vilho Kamanya were also expelled from the traditional authority. Three other councillors - Kashona kaMalulu, Tonata Ngulu and Fillemon Nambili – were also been dismissed. The infighting turned nasty as the dismissed councillors turned to the courts and an order was granted in the Oshakati High Court compelling Elifas to give oral testimony. At the time, Elifas’ legal team argued that the application to have the king testify was an attempt to test his mental capabilities in an open court. Several leaders, including head of state Hage Geingob and former president Sam Nujoma also tried to intervene in the impasse. At one point, Geingob summoned the factions to State House and pleaded with the dismissed councillors to drop the court case so that the king would not be “paraded in court of law and embarrassed in front of his people”.