05 Oct 2015 11:00am
By PATIENCE SMITH
GIBEON, 5 OCT (NAMPA) Salomon Josephat Witbooi was Saturday coroneted as the 9th Captain of the /Khowese clan at Gibeon.
This came against a backdrop of resistance from his cousin, Ismael Witbooi - also known as Isaxub - who claims to be the rightful heir to the chieftaincy.
The Witbooi family, larger /Khowese clan and residents of Gibeon are split behind the two men.
The elder Salomon - also known as Koelieb - is the son of a sister of Hendrik Witbooi, the last captain who died in 2009, while the younger Ismael is the son of a brother of the late captain.
Only a handful of people from the entire clan and community attended the event on Saturday.
A clan member, who abstained from the historic proceedings, said the majority backed Ismael and remarked that the few hundred people seated under the tent at Salomon's coronation, were all from Mariental and Windhoek.
The theme of the coronation was: Not with Quantity, but Quality.
A short distance from Salomons house where the coronation was held, the teenage daughter of Ismael, Kalla Witbooi said her heart was sad for her father.
Lucia Links, Kallas mother, said quietly: There is nothing I can do about what is happening today. All I can do is to remove myself and my children. I dont want to hear anything bad about Isaxub, because he is the father of my children.
Besides Kalla, Links and Isaxub share three other children.
Kalla and her younger brother, Destiny, are part of the brass band that played at the coronation.
Links however requested their absence for the day.
Marius Witbooi witnessed the event from the side-lines and said: I was raised by Hendrik Witbooi and as much as I love and respect Koelieb, I cannot be in his camp.
Salomons coronation was led and endorsed by senior clergymen of the A.M.E. Church, including the Reverends Pineas Topnaar, Eric Biwa, Willem Hanse and Daniel Schmidt, and the Bishop Emeritus Rev. Hendrik Frederick of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
He was nominated by the most senior Witbooi family member, eldest sister of the late Hendrik Witbooi, Alwina Petersen. The only other surviving sibling is Anna Jacobs, the mother of the new captain.
A close family member said Jacobs kept to herself throughout the succession process and has not publicly expressed support for either candidate.
She has been crying a lot, her concern is for the entire Witbooi family; she does not want to choose between her son and her nephew, the person wishing to remain anonymous said.
Petersen said the nomination was directed and sanctioned by succession laws written in 1940 by Markus Witbooi. She read from the historic letter that outlined succession procedures and listed the names of the clan elders responsible for choosing clan leaders.
All the named individuals, except for Petersen, are now deceased leaving the nomination solely in her hands, Petersen explained.
The nomination of Salomon was initiated by Petersen and her husband, the late Rev. Hans Petersen.
She said she wanted to complete this process before there was no one left to conclude it.
Pastor Topnaar, who has spearheaded Salomons nomination since 2012, say he was expressly appointed by Rev. Petersen before his passing to bring the crowning of Salomon to its conclusion.
Topnaar and Hanse are from the house of the late Willem Moses Jod, one of the selected succession council members.
Topnaar, who was visibly moved throughout the day, said his heart was filled with joy and that he was grateful to have been able to complete the difficult task of ensuring the clan has a leader.
I am very emotional today and I thank God this day has come. I pray for the best and hope we can resolve the conflict in the days ahead. I also hope this captain will be able to bring the people together, Topnaar said.
Later, when Topnaar and Salomon hugged after the coronation, both men shed tears.
Yolande Witbooi-Motinga, daughter of Hendrik Witbooi said she had announced earlier that she will not choose sides.
I respect our clan laws and the decisions of our elders, but my family is divided. My father lived for peace and I would like the elders to always consider that, she said.
After the ceremony, a supporter of Ismael said: We have to accept what is happening. The clan is dying and we are losing out on everything that is due to us; we should leave it to the family to sort out the differences.
In his inaugural speech, Salomon duly accepted his captaincy as a gigantic honour. He said he accepted his nomination as an act of God and laws of the clan.
I do not see this as some sort of elevation, but merely as a call to service.
Right away, Salomon aligned himself with the policies of Government and called for assistance in setting up massive green schemes along the Fish River passing through Gibeon to help alleviate poverty.
I pledge that I ascend to this high position not to be served, but to serve the people of my clan and of my country, the new captain said.