Vanyemba tribe demands recognition in Kavango

11 May 2015 14:10pm
RUNDU, 11 MAY (NAMPA) - A new traditional authority emerging from the two Kavango regions known as the Vanyemba Association (VA) of the Vanyemba tribe has come out guns blazing, requesting Government’s recognition of their chief in Namibia, and to give them land in the two northern regions.
The VA late last year wrote to the then President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, requesting him to recognise their tribe in order to maintain their privileges, language, norms, values and culture.
The tribe’s recognition has become a debatable issue in the Kavango East and West regions in recent years, with the advocators demanding that the Vanyemba language be recognised so that it can be taught in schools and have its own programming run on the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation’s (NBC) Rukavango radio.
According to the letter dated 09 September 2014, which is in possession of this agency, the tribe’s nine-member committee told the former president that their forefathers came to Namibia from Angola in the early 1900s to settle in the then South West Africa.
The Vanyemba tribe’s committee consists of Samuel Likholo as chairperson, deputised by Joseph Kasera with Lucas Domingos as the secretary and Joseph Mukonda as deputy-secretary.
Robert Hamunyera is the treasurer, deputised by Ndara Martins with Moses Kashela serving as the coordinator. The committee advisor is Kankala Thadeus and Andreas Elias is the culture advisor.
In the letter, they claim their Namibian citizenship based on the country’s Constitution that according to them in Chapter 2, Article 4, states that a person can be Namibian by birth and if that person’s forefathers were born and resided in Namibia before independence in 1990.
The disgruntled tribe argued that up to date, the Vanyemba are not yet recognised countrywide, while the government knows that they are Namibian citizens and that they migrated to Namibia, just like any other tribe.
They argue that not being recognised is disadvantaging them, as they are not enjoying the practice of their traditions, culture and language as per the country’s Constitution, which they say entitles them to enjoy their freedom.
VA chairperson Samuel Likholo said, “We want the government to look into this matter and recognise our tribe for us to enjoy the rights and privileges that other tribes in Namibia are enjoying.”
The committee questioned why the Vanyemba tribe falls under other tribes and languages in the two Kavango regions, as if they do not have their own language, tradition and culture.
The VA noted that they also contribute to the economy and development of the country through various means and should therefore be treated equal to other tribes in Namibia.
The tribe specifically requested the government to consider making the Vanyemba the sixth tribe, in addition to the existing five tribes recognised in the two Kavango regions.
“We are based in the Kavango East and West regions, and we are found around the four corners of this country. We are also the majority or have the highest population in Kavango,” claims the Vanyemba chairperson, although figures could not be established.
The five recognised tribes in the two Kavango regions are the Hambukushu, Gciriku, Shambyu, Mbunza and VaKwangali.
The Kavango East Governor, Samuel Mbambo confirmed to this agency that he is aware of the VA’s letter of demand but could not divulge details, as the issue is in the hands of the President’s office and he is not mandated to comment on the matter. Mbambo said the matter is currently under investigation.
“It is a well known letter and its not a secret but I will only give information once I have clarity from the President’s office,” he said.
The Kavango West Governor, Sirkka Ausiku said that she was aware of the letter and received a copy from her Kavango East counterpart on 07 April this year.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Mbunza Traditional Authority Chief Alfons Kaundu also confirmed that he is aware of the demands but stated that the office of the Kavango East governor was mandated to arrange for an appointment with the President’s office to discuss the matter.
Chief Kaundu noted that once the appointment is secured, governors for the Kavango regions, together with their traditional authority leaders will undertake a trip to State House for a discussion on the matter.