Omukwaniilwa laid to rest

The state funeral of the 18th king of Ondonga, Omukwaniilwa Immanuel Kauluma Elifas, took place at Olukonda in the Oshikoto Region on Saturday.

15 April 2019 | Cultural

Thousands of people from Namibia and abroad gathered at Onamungundo and Olukonda in the Oshikoto Region over the weekend to pay their last respects to the 18th king of Ondonga, Omukwaniilwa Immanuel Kauluma Elifas, who ruled uninterrupted for 44 years.

Several speakers at the memorial services held on Thursday and Friday described Elifas as a monarch who loved peace and as a great unifier of the Namibian people. Elifas was accorded a state burial at the royal cemetery at Olukonda.

Besides being the king of Ondonga, Elifas also served as the chairperson of the Council of Traditional Leaders from its inception in 1997 until his death on 26 March this year in the Onandjokwe Lutheran hospital at the age of 86.

The deputy chairperson of the council, Gaob Immanuel !Gaseb, said there was no concern over how Elifas managed the affairs of the council even as his health deteriorated.

“The late chairperson was a good listener who was always considerate with us when approached for advice. Traditional leaders worked together by consulting each other on issues relating to the council and he was always open and available for consultation,” said !Gaseb.

“It is known that the council of traditional leaders from time to time is faced with challenges of disputes among traditional communities as far as communal land and chieftaincies are concerned.

“The late chairperson was a strategist and he always advised his fellow members not to panic but to handle all disputes on merit, and to make sure that fairness is applied in all aspects. To us he was a source of great wisdom and promoter of unity in disputes.” Founding president Sam Nujoma said the Namibian nation lost a brave and revolutionary leader who was a unifier and a peacemaker.

He described Elifas as an extraordinary man with courage and boundless compassion who treated everybody equally, irrespective of skin colour, gender, ethnic origin or political affiliation.

“May we all learn from his wise leadership and bravery and may we all honour his memory by working together as a united people striving to achieve a common good for all members of society,” said Nujoma.

Nujoma also added that Elifas was courageous in his determination to end apartheid and was one of the few traditional leaders in the northern Namibia who refused a military base at his palace for protection by the then government.

“He used to shelter Plan combatants at his palace. On one occasion he told the colonial administration that they were not Plan combatants, they were just his palace men. Whenever they were detained, he could order their immediate release,” said Nujoma.

President Hage Geingob described the late Elifas as a potentate of the highest calibre and honour, who served not only the Ondonga community but the entire Namibia.

“We must honour him by ensuring that we continue to promote the core values that define our culture; values such as peace, justice, humility, gentleness, truthfulness, cooperation and unity. In this regard, let us not undermine our culture, tradition and elders by promoting conflict and disunity. Omukwaniilwa Elifas worked hard, using his innate reconciliatory and mediatory powers to unite the Ondonga people, not only with each other but with the rest of their Namibian brothers and sisters,” said Geingob.

At home, Elifas was also described as a unifier and peacemaker. Elifas was blessed with 18 children, eight of whom have already passed on. He married his wife Secilia Ndapandula in 1972.

Aina Gwaandapo Elifas, who spoke on behalf of the grandchildren, and Ester Gwashamba Elifas-Wilheik, who spoke on behalf of the children, said that the late Omukwaniilwa always urged them to be humble and never see themselves as “special people”.

ILENI NANDJATO

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