November 11, 2005

Namibia gets first female chief

Thousands of members of the Oukwanyama from Namibia and Angola witnessed the first inauguration of their new female chief. The 300.000 Oukwanyama, who lived both sides of the border between Namibia and Angola, form the largest of seven Owambo sub-tribes, who together make up about one third of Namibia's population of 1.9m. George Nelulu of Oukwanyama traditional authority said: "For nearly 80 years we didn't have a chief, because King Mandume, as we called him, was unmarried and left no children, he was approximately 26-years-old when he died. After Namibia became independent in 1990, our chiefs decided to reinstate an 'ohamba' chief, but Cornelius Shelongo from the royal family, who became chief in 1996, died last week, aged 89."

According to Nelulu, Shelongo had informed his senior chiefs on his deathbed and councillors that he wanted his cousin, Martha Nelumbo, 75, as his successor. Andre Hashihana of the organising committee said: "We were a bit surprised that a woman was chosen. But, historically women from the royal Mandume family had special rights and the Oukwanyamas always chose their successors from the female hereditary bloodline." (News24, South Africa)


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