ALETHA Nguvauva became the first woman to be elected as Paramount Chief of the Ovambanderu traditional community having succeeded her son, Keharanjo Nguvauva. The chieftainship has been mired with controversy but many, including a senior minister, human rights lawyers and activists hailed her appointment. In an interview with Confidente recently, Aletha who is the widow of Chief Munjuku Nguvauva II talked about her background that helped shape the woman she is today, taking over the Ovambanderu chieftainship and her love for farming.
Give us a snapshot of who you are?
I am Karikondua, born 50 years back to a nomadic peasant family with deepest traits of both the Nguvauva and Katjiteo clans of the Ovambanderu ancient community. Due to Christian roots of my parents I was baptised Aletha and being a royal descendent and the blood cousin of the Nguvauva family, I was found customarily proper and in line with traditions and customs to be trothed to and so be wedded to the late HRM King Munjuku Nguvauva II as to give birth to the heirs of the royal throne.
Briefly tell us about your upbringing?
I was brought up strictly in the lofty ideals of Ovambanderu culture, cognizant as the mother of future rulers inclusive of myself and to show respect to the elderly within and outside my own community. That upbringing instilled in me positive attitude and respect towards human and social relationship and interactions.
Were you prepared for the role of Chief or did it take some getting used to?
I was very much prepared for the role as a Chief due to the following factors. First and foremost my parental upbringing to be obedient and submissive to my husband had made me the last King’s Counsel in matters of community meetings and courts. Secondly, when my royal son took over the reins from his father, I caught up with age differences in leadership and peer approaches to new ways of tackling problems for solutions within the community. Assessment and combination of the two trained me to be more patient and meek in matters of customs and culture. Thirdly, having been a social and political activist as well as educationist of children and literacy advocate for the aged; the fond memories of my late husband were always to do little for yourself and much more for others.
What challenges do you face as a female Chief?
Long meetings and hesitations to take decisions towards swift solution are challenges to a female chief who is also a mother. When the child cries, you breastfeed him or her timeously. So, it takes time and patience to move men to be organised in a short and concise environment.
What are you currently focusing your energy on as Chief?
I’m now preparing tranquility of the entire community as well as the education of young people and agricultural productivity of the Omaheke region in particular, and Namibia in general.
What do you like most and least about being Chief?
I continue to be a loving, humble and generous Chief to others i.e. direct and indirect subjects throughout the country. I like to interact with other chiefs and to exchange views on intercultural issues of common interest for social justice. I dislike discrimination of the girl-child, killing of women and abortions.
Apart from being a Chief, what other roles do you serve in?
I’m a public servant in the Office of the Prime Minister and an outstanding cattle farmer in the Omaheke region.
How do you juggle your roles as a Chief, professional and family woman?
Once the brains and the heart agree and are sealed by love for country and the people, then service delivery is encouraged for the family, country and people.
What has life taught you that you wish to share with other women?
Women leadership should move out from in-house active administration to public participation in all spheres of life.
Just what do you do for a little fun?
Collecting wood in the veld, cooking food outside in the open and milking cows for omaere and butter making. I do socialise with the young people and tell them stories of moral fixing or education.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015