Kingdom in limbo

There were renewed calls for unity yesterday, as the Ondonga kingdom struggles to plot a way forward after the death of its respected king.

27 March 2019 | Cultural

The ongoing infighting in the Ondonga traditional community has stalled the immediate naming of a new monarch following the death of King Immanuel Kauluma Elifas.

As per tradition, a successor was to have been named immediately after the king's death in the early hours of yesterday morning. When the previous king, Filemon yaElifas lyaShindondola, died in 1975, his brother Elifas was immediately installed as his replacement.

But this has not happened this time around because of the widely publicised succession battle that has beset the beleaguered traditional community.

There was a huge police presence yesterday at the late king's residence, a testimony to the ongoing tensions among the traditional leaders.

There were, however, renewed calls for unity yesterday, with family elder Amaganga Nekuyu imploring the factions to bury the hatchet and mourn peacefully.

Nekuyu also said Elifas residence at Onamungundo could not be referred to as the Ondonga palace anymore.

“This is not a palace anymore because the king has passed on. As the king's chiefs (senior councillors) you need to be united and at peace, for the sake of mourning him peacefully.

“I know you are in two factions, but you need to become one. Ondonga is in mess, just because of you, and it is a shameful thing.

This also applies to the royal family,” he said.

Nekuyu added that given the current disunity, it was too early to tell who would be appointed as king.

“The royal family and the king's council have to sit down first and discuss the way forward.”

The senior leaders yesterday also announced the formation of a task team to be headed by one of the senior councillors dismissed by the king in July 2017, Vilho Kamanya. The team will spearhead arrangements for the mourning period. Kamanya, who is a former governor of Oshikoto, will be deputised by senior headman for Onalusheshete, Eino Shondili Amutenya.

“I am ready to do my tasks with your support. We know our king has many friends and this means that we need to have a dedicated committee.

The task team will be made up of all the 10 district senior councillors and they already know each other,” said Kamanya.


The traditional authority has been divided by a succession battle, with some preferring Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo to take over as king, while another faction, which apparently enjoys the support of the royal family, has been rooting for Oscar Sheehama.

The two are Elifas' great-grandchildren. Elifas had named 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 former traditional authority chairperson, the late Peter Kauluma, and former spokesperson Joseph Asino. Heavyweights such as senior headman John Walenga and Kamanya were also expelled from the traditional authority.

Three other councillors - Kashona kaMalulu, Tonata Ngulu and Fillemon Nambili - were also fired. 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 court. Several leaders, including 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”.


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