Villagers want ?Lazarus tree? declared historical site

18 Jun 2013 06:00
KAHUKURU, 18 JUN (NAMPA) - Residents of the Kahukuru village and surrounding areas on the outskirts of Rundu have called on the government to consider declaring the site where a tree made history earlier this year as a historical site.
The thorn tree, known in the Rukavango language as ?Muhengeva?, fell to the ground because of strong winds and heavy rain in February this year.
Soon after it fell, three men were busy cutting off its branches to remove it from the road that it was blocking when it ?mysteriously? rose again.
The three men ran away in shock.
Residents now regard this tree?s ?resurrection? as supernatural, hence their request for the area to be declared a historical site.
The tree is also known as the ?Lazarus Tree?, in reference to a Bible story of Lazarus who was raised from the dead by Jesus.
A local businessman, Daniel ?Dragon? Mukisi resides adjacent to the tree, and told Nampa on Tuesday that during March this year, he employed a person to register the number of people who regularly visit the now-popular tree.
Mukisi said the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture (MYNSSC) should consider visiting the tree, and possibly develop its surroundings.
The tree previously served as shelter and a resting place for residents, including learners who go past it to and from school.
However, a chief warden within the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in the Kavango Region, Phillip Steyn at the time explained that the tree just tilted upright after its branches were chopped off, making the top part lighter than the bottom part.
But despite this scientific explanation, villagers are adamant that it was some sort of ?supernatural? incident.
Meanwhile, a curator within the MYNSSC in the Kavango Region, Helvy Mbwalala told this agency that her office is yet to receive such a request from community members, and advised them to submit their proposal to the National Heritage Council of Namibia and motivate why they want it declared a historical site.
The tree has started to grow branches again, but continues to attract curious visitors and residents who come to take pictures of themselves next to the tree.
Taxi drivers also make brisk money by taking commuters to and from the scene.
The Kavango Region already has a historical tree at the Kapako village, situated some 30 kilometres west of Rundu.
The Acacia Eriolab thorn tree, known in Rukavango as 'Munyondo gwaKapande', is thicker than a normal thorn tree, hence its historical site status.
Popular belief has it that a powerful drumbeater, who was known locally as 'Munyondo gwaKapande', climbed into the tree whilst beating his drum, and ?disappeared?.
It is believed that the sound of the drum is often heard coming from the tree in March during harvesting time, which is also the month in which the drummer disappeared into the tree.