Caprivi renaming raises hacklesBy: JAN POOLMAN
PLANS to rename the Caprivi Region might reignite the simmering tribal conflict in the region, it is feared.
If one local tribe is not happy with a renaming, such a move might have disastrous consequences, some in the region say.
A proposal to change the names of Caprivi and Lüderitz was tabled in Cabinet this month by the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Albert Kawana, himself from the Caprivi Region.
The reasons given were that they are colonial names, both of German origin.
The Namibian has received several calls from Caprivi inhabitants, who raised concern about a possible renaming of the region.
According to them, this would increase the tribal tension, especially between the Mawfe and the Masubia tribes, in the region.
In his State of the Nation address in Parliament this year, President Hifikepunye Pohamba said in response to questions from Ignatius Shixwameni and Usutuaije Maamberua about colonial names: “Who is Lüderitz in the first place? And we have a region called Caprivi. Something should be done and has to be done.”
It now seems that “something has been done” and on enquiry the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr Albert Kawana, neither denied nor confirmed a name change for Caprivi.
“You have to talk to the Minister of Information and Communication Technology about it,” he told The Namibian.
Minister Joel Kaapanda said he was aware that the issue came up during the State of the Nation address, but he didn’t know how far the Government was with the implementation.
With the support of opposition parties for the President’s proposal, The Namibian can reveal that preparations are underway to change the names of the Caprivi Region and the harbour town of Lüderitz.
“What will be the new name of Caprivi? Will it be Itenge [“Small Place”, with which the inhabitants are not satisfied] or Linyanti as the Barotse people referred to Caprivi,” asked a concerned Namibian living in the Caprivi.
The Mafwe tribe’s headquarters is situated at Linyanti village, while the Masubias call their Chief Kisco Liswani II, “Munitenge” (owner of Caprivi) and named his headquarters the Munitenge Royal Establishment.
The name Itenge is said to be controversial as Caprivi secessionists, under the leadership of Mishake Muyongo already want to rename the region to the Republic of Itenge.
“Even if the Government asks the people to come forward with possible names for Caprivi, these two tribes will fight one another to push for their respective names to be accepted. This will only fuel tribal conflict in the region.”
It is expected that the renaming of Lüderitz would be left in the hands of the town’s municipality, while that of the Caprivi will be the responsibility of the Caprivi Regional Council, where the Mafwe and Masubia tribes each has three representatives.
Lüderitz has undergone several name changes since its establishment in 1883, such as Angra Pequena.
A true cosmopolitan town, Lüderitz is one town where the different tribes of Namibia prefer to refer themselves as Buchters. While some residents may oppose the name change, anything with the suffix ‘Bucht’ would do for many residents.
Lüderitz is one Namibian town that has not known tribalism with all inhabitants communicating mainly in distinct Afrikaans.
It remains to be seen whether the Buchters are prepared to part with (Adolf) Lüderitz, a German merchant, who is said to have bought the town from a Nama chief and named it after himself.