/Khowese dispute patrilineal succession

29 June 2018 | Cultural

The /Khowese Royal House has rejected claims by a faction that the hereditary chieftaincy of the clan is based solely on patrilineal lineage.

The royal house is arguing the heir must come from within the lineage of the late Isak Witbooi, as decreed the legendary Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi.

This is contrary the interpretation of urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga and Ismael Witbooi, who is not the direct son of the previous kaptein.

/Khowese Royal House spokesperson Reverend Pineas Topnaar explained it has the mandate to appoint a successor in the scenario where a serving kaptein passes on without identifying and introducing a successor.

Topnaar said the royal house was entitled to identify, nominate and coronate a suitable candidate to lead the clan.

He further said that in accordance with this mandate, the /Khowese Royal House, based on customs and practice, identified and coronated Salomon Witbooi to be the new kaptein, without any objection from the elders, the clan and its community.

Topnaar said the main argument from other group is solely premised on paternal lineage, which they believe was followed in the past.

He said the previous urban and rural development minister, Sophia Shaningwa, had informed the clan that both candidates qualify, as they are from royal descent.

Hence, she advised the royal house it should identify a sole candidate for government recognition.

However, Mushelenga reportedly said during an 18 June meeting with both factions that Ismael is the legitimate heir, since he was born from the paternal lineage, while Salomon was born from the female lineage.

Ismael is the son of Willem Moses Witbooi, the brother to the late Reverend Witbooi, while Salomon is the son of Anna Jacobs, the sister of the late two brothers.

Topnaar argued that Mushelenga has changed the previous government position, which said it cannot prescribe to a clan which successor to nominate.

“The /Khowese Royal House differs from the arguments of the rebellious group and finds the minister's statements baseless, as explained by the centuries-old chieftaincy lineage of the /Khowese clan,” he said.

He said the first leader of the clan after its formation of was a women named !A-//is, who led the clan for several years until her death.

He said her son Kido Witbooi succeeded her and was the first chief to have led the clan across the Orange River.

He was followed by his son, Moses Dawid Witbooi, who was succeeded by his son, the legendary Hendrik Witbooi also known as !Nanseb.

!Nanseb, after leaving his father in Goamus near Gibeon and settling at his stronghold in Hornzkrans in the Khomas Hochland, established a traditional war council consisting mostly of young men.

The royal house, mostly consisting of the elders, became known as the /Khoman Royal House.

Topnaar emphasised that based on the circumstances at that time it was decided that only descendants of his son Isak Witbooi are suitable for the chieftaincy lineage while descendants of his other son, Hendrik, also known as Auta Meester, must follow the missionary or church lineage.

“This determination was based on growing resistance against colonial encroachment, as well as the growing influence of European missionaries, which needed to be countered. This showed his tactfulness in identifying and adapting to the changing circumstances within the country,” Topnaar argued.

Mushelenga told Namibian Sun earlier this week that at the meeting he had with both factions in the presence of the governor of the Hardap Region, Esme Isaacks, it became clear that succession was in accordance with the patrilineal line, but that the clan maintained both matrilineal and patrilineal lines were used.

“Based on that I will compile a report and will forward it to the attorney-general for legal advice,” he emphasised.

According to him people are lying if they say he came with a predetermined decision as to who should be the chief. He stressed he wanted the correct procedures to be followed.

“If customs are customs they must be followed over a long period of time. I am not here to be used by anyone. We experienced that feuding factions over traditional leadership in this country take chances when there are new ministers appointed, just to be recognised at the expense of others,” he said.

FRED GOEIEMAN

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