In Response to Mr. Mutelo’s Article

Dr. John Makala Lilemba
My brother, Mr. Mutelo, Sir, following our telephonic conversation on the debate, and in acknowledgment and recognition of your democratic right of expression, let me first and foremost draw your attention tothe gross misinformation and distortion of some issues in your tribal discourse. Your caption does not capture the debate at hand in fairness.

You refer to the debate as “Tribal Politics a Dangerous Game,” implying that my response to Mayuni’s claim as a pure Mufwe is tribal politics. This is contrary to what I presented in Caprivi Vision of 30 January 2012. If you mean to portray my piece of argument as tribal politics, it remains to be judged between the two presentations, yours which according to my view advocates the balkanization and fragmentation of people along tribal lines and mine which seeks unity not only among the people under Chief Mamili, but all people in Namibia. We defeated colonialism which divided us and in this era of Namibian independence we should therefore strive to fight tooth and nail any divisive force which seeks to tear us apart.
Yes I pointed to some who regard themselves as proper Mafwe, I meant some people, because I do not tow their line. I do not believe at this age that one can seriously talk of either a pure race or a pure tribe as you claim because you are not part of the latter. You know even yourself that you are not a pure Mufwe as I told you over the phone. I need not tell you that the Old Lay (your mother, our mother) is partly of Sangwali stock and your father (our father) of Wiko stock. Where do you draw the line between a pure Mufwe and a non Mufwe? If you are really genuine about the concept of pure Mafwe, why do you coerce the people around Sachona and Singalamwe who speak Thimbukushu to be part of your traditional authority? In addition you are well aware that all indunas whom your traditional authority claims to be under its jurisdiction denounced Chief Mayuni that year.
Of course there have been debates as to the original name and meaning of the term Fwe. This has led to many people questioning who are the real Fwe and where do they come from. It should be understood that names of communities have different meanings and dubious origins. Some communities carry names which carry some form of philosophies, others were either named by one person and the whole group acquired that name or themselves decided to coin one term for one reason or another. A good example is that of the Lozi and what constitutes the Lozi and who is a Lozi. According to Mainga in her book, Bulozi Under Luyana Kings: Political Evolution and State Formation in Pre-Colonial Zambia,the exact origin of this collective name is unknown although there are people among the Lozi who claim to belong to the real Lozi tribe, while other Lozi tribes were simply incorporated into the Lozi kingdom. According to Kruger in his History of the Caprivi even the Subiya were originally called Batwa and this group included some elements of Fwe, Leya and Toka. It is further recorded by Kruger that Sundano, one of the Subiya headman, fleeing from other Batwa headmen swelled his tribe with other people whom he raided and conquered. This dispels the perception that the Subiya are a homogeneous community and a pure tribe as we are made to understand and believe. Liswani the renowned Subiya chief is assumed to have been a Mbukushu.
What then is in a tribal name my brother Mr. Mutelo? Maybe you should explain to us what is so special about being a pure Mufwe. According to you what qualifies one to be regarded as a pure Mufwe? There is nothing wrong for a number of linguistics groups to be labeled under one name or umbrella. There are many examples as I have cited the case of the Lozis in Zambia who are composed of thirty six linguistic groups, yet they regard themselves as Lozis.The Lozis comprise of the following groups: Manyengo, Makwanga, Mambowe, baImilangu, Makwandi, Makoma, Mafwe, Masubiya, to mention just a few. The British today are made of the English, Welsh, some Irish and even Scottish.Even in Namibia there are ethnic groups which resort under one name yet they speak different languages. Mr. Mutelo you are an experienced teacher, you should know these basic facts. You refer to me as a pure Mufwe. I don’t know whether you know that my father is a subject of Induna Kaliyangile from Makusi Village. I find a lot of falsified information in your article which I can hardly believe that a teacher of your caliber can put that on paper for public consumption.
My brother Mr. Mutelo, it is on record by Maria Fisch in her book, The Caprivi Strip During the German Colonial Period 1890 to 1915that when the rule of the Lozis came to an abrupt end in the Caprivi in 1890, all the people in the region, who have been under the rule of Litia, automatically fell under the rule of Mamili. Chief Mamili was regarded as the Paramount Chief in the German territory and his headquarters were the biggest settlement in the Caprivi, when Streitwolf arrived in the territory in 1909. It is unfortunate that Streitwolf rejected the proposal of Richard Rothe, a German businessman from Outjo and another German journalist Franz Steiner, to recognize and acknowledge Chief Mamili, as the Paramount Chief of the Caprivi Region in 1909.

Where was Chief Mayuni then? It is quite strange that Mayuni chieftainship only surfaced after independence like a few others. Of course the excuse is that his subjects were oppressed by the colonizers. But how did other chiefs stood the test of colonialism? In fact Streitwolf’s approach was more of a consultative nature than imposing. I can prove that to you Mr. Mutelo. When Streitwolf arrived in the Caprivi, and upon realizing and being informed of the flight of some Subiyas, into Mwandi, Zambia, he took it upon himself to negotiate for their return, which was accomplished. When they came back, he asked them to elect their own chief despite the fact that they asked him to appoint one for them, to which he declined. That was how Chikamatondo was picked by his people when he beat Munyaza in the election. After accomplishing that mission, he proceeded with consultations touching New Linyanti with Imataa Kabainda and then proceeded to Bwacha, Sikosi, Mwanota, Sangwali and other areas. All people in these areas accepted to be under Chief Mamili instead of resorting under Siluka, who was now under the British Protectorate. In my own opinion, the Germans in Windhoek and Berlin could not afford another genocide after the massacre of the Hereros, hence their soft approach on the Caprivi. So if Mayuni was chief then, definitely he would have been recognized as such.
We do not hear of Mayuni impis who fought the colonizers. You equally agree with me the appointment of Chief Mayuni was political, because should a referendum been held, Mayuni would not have been a chief. If you disagree with me, let us call for a referendum and see whether the Chief will pass the test. Whereas everything is under the bridge now, let us admit that no consultation was done among the people you claim to be under Chief Mayuni. In a democracy you don’t impose yourself on others, as has been the case with your traditional authority.
We both agree that working together in the Region is the only solution and therefore should stop calling one another names. Your traditional authority should be content with Mashi Traditional Authority. Don’t push the Mafwe to a point where a referendum will be called because that might signal the end of your chieftainship.

Thanks my brother.
Dr. John Makala Lilemba







3 responses to “In Response to Mr. Mutelo’s Article”

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