Okalongo — King Mário Shatipamba of Onaluheke Palace in Angola's Cunene Province said the movement of people between his country and Namibia is too cumbersome and is gradually eroding kinship among Ovambadja people in both countries, who were divided by artificial borders set by colonisers in 1885.
Shatipamba experienced first-hand the turtle-paced immigration process last Saturday, when he was delayed for hours at a border post as he tried to cross into Namibia to attend the coronation of Natanael Ndikwetepo as traditional head of Ondudu District in Okalongo.
The Angolan king apologised to those congregated at Ndikwetepo's homestead at Olupito, saying he and his delegation spent hours at the Namibian-Angolan border, where proceedings were painfully slow.
Shatipamba did not call for the removal of the borders between the two countries, as is often suggested by some members of the Ovambadja and Ovakwanyama tribes, but hammered home the importance of smooth movement of people so as to enhance affinity among members of the two tribes who have relatives on both sides of the border fence.
The infamous 'Scramble of Africa', a rush by European colonialists into African territories as agreed at the so-called Berlin Conference which started in Germany in 1884, saw Portugal and Germany agreeing on borders between Angola and Namibia - their respective colonies at the time.
The new artificial border between the two countries cut the Ovambadja and Ovakwanyama tribal areas into halves, leaving inhabitants of the two tribal areas in Angola and others in Namibia.
Many members of the Ovambadja tribe who reside on the Angolan side of the border have Namibian identity documents and their children commute daily to attend school in Namibia and cross back into Angolan territory after school.
King Shatipamba, in his speech at Ndikwetepo's coronation on Saturday, said: "Europeans divided us and now movement among ourselves as a people has become extremely difficult."
He called on the governments of Angola and Namibia to ease movement of people between the borders.
"Let's also research circumstances that divided us with a view to find a solution," he said, to thunders of applause.
Ndikwetepo was officially sworn in as traditional leader of Ondudu District, which encompasses five villages of Olupito, Onaidjimba, Omatwadiva, Okafitu kaUvale and Ondudu.
Retired bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (Elcin) Kleopas Dumeni and Josaphat Shanghala, assisted by reverend of the Ewaneno Elcin congregation, Lukas Haindongo, presided over the religious swearing-in of Ndikwetepo.
Head of the Ombadja Traditional Authority in Namibia, Mathias Walaula, presided over the traditional swearing-in of Ndikwetepo, with whom he shared several tools of trade, including a book on the Namibian constitution.
"Lead your people with impartiality, fairness, kindness and, where allowed in law, forgiveness. May God bless your leadership journey," Walaula told his new right hand man.