Chief, wife, relative and induna

Covid wreaks havoc in Masubia royal house

23 July 2021 | Local News



A dark cloud hangs over the Bukalo palace in the Zambezi Region where Masubia chief Kisco Liswani III and three other people – including his wife – succumbed to Covid-19 this week.

In an unprecedented turn of events, Chief Liswani, who has been leader of the Masubia for 25 years, his wife Grace Muraliswani, senior member of the royal house Leonard Sitwala and senior induna (headman) of the Nakabolelwa district, Richard Masule Mujiwa, all died of the virus in the space of a few hours.

Chief Liswani has been the munitenge (head) of the Masubia tribe since August 1996.

A tight lid is being kept on the extraordinary deaths that rocked the Bukalo royal house, in part due to a long tradition of privacy when a chief dies.

Namibian Sun has, however, established that the chief passed on at the Katima Mulilo state hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

President Hage Geingob, who met Chief Liswani and other traditional leaders on a tour of Zambezi in April, described the departed chief as a gentle leader.

“I learnt with utmost sadness about the untimely death of a gentle leader, Kisco Liswani III, Chief of the Masubia. Our nation and the Masubia lost a man who was committed to the unity of the Namibian people. He lived by the motto of One Namibia, One Nation,” Geingob tweeted.

According to sources at Bukalo, Mujiwa and Sitwala died after the chief on Wednesday, while queen Muraliswani died in the early morning hours of Thursday.

Secrecy of burial

Meanwhile as the burials of various chiefs across the country are treated as public events, this is not the case as per the traditions of the Masubia.

Namibian Sun has been informed that the chief was buried hours after he was declared dead and buried at a sacred – and private – place.

“According to the tradition, the chief cannot be put in a mortuary. He must be buried just hours after he is declared dead and he must be escorted by one servant. Now that the wife is gone with him, I think they will share a grave,” a source said.

Reacting to the news, one of Liswani’s subjects, former health minister Richard Kamwi, said: “We lost a gentle giant who spoke his mind and who united the Basubia community”.

“He was a policeman based in Mariental when he was nominated to become our chief, but he quickly adapted to the role and led us with dignity. He instilled a culture of business and education within our community.”

Chiefs in Covid trouble

Several traditional leaders have succumbed to Covid-19 since June. Between 18 June and Wednesday this week, the country lost Ovaherero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro, Afrikaner Traditional Authority chief Eduard Afrikaner, Ovambanderu chief Kilus Nguvauva, Bakgalagadi Traditional Authority chief Hubert Ditshabue, Vaalgras chief Joel Stephanus and Liswani.

During June and July alone, government bestowed 14 state-sponsored funerals, some of them on traditional leaders, amounting to about N$1.1 million.

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