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Grave of Chief Kahimemua Nguvauva

Grootfontein | Namibia

Chief Kahimemua Nguvauva was a Mbanderu (Herero clan) chief in what was then German South West Africa. He was born at Musorakuumba near the town of Okahandja, to the Herero Royal House of Nguvauva and became leader of the Mbanderu in eastern Namibia.

Up to May 1896, the German regime had frequently intruded on land belonging to Kavikunua and another Herero Chief - Kambahahiza Nikodemus Kavikunua, eldest son of Chief Tjamuaha. Kahimemua. Cattle belonging to the two chiefs and their families were impounded and sold on. The proceeds were divided between the Germans and a Herero paramount chief that succeeded Samuel Herero - events that were challenged by the chiefs that led to the uprising at Gobabis.

Cheif's Nguvauva and Kavikunua were declared rebels for defending their rights and property. A bounty was placed on their heads and the position of chiefs revoked. On May 17, 1896, German Major Theodor von Leutweinthe of the Schutztruppe descended on Nguvauva's Otjihaenena village, and demanded that he surrender. Nguvauva refused and fighting broke out.

The Ovambanderu fought bravely but their inferior weaponry of 'old flintlocks, obsolescent rifles salvaged from the Prussian-Franco War and muzzle-loading percussion muskets' were no match for the better equipped imperial army. The German troops fired indiscriminately into the village, murdering many women and children, some of them elders, as they ran for cover. Chiefs Nguvauva and Kahimemua were defeated at the battle of Otjunda (Strumfeld), but not before killing German Lieutenant Otto Lampe and Lambert in battle. Their village was razed to the ground and the injured Nguvauva was captured by the Germans. Kavikunua surrended to the German authorities at Okahandja on hearing of this news, to 'prevent a revenge massacre and collective punishment of his followers'.

Kavikunua and Nguvauva, along with several minor Herero chiefs, were charged with high treason on 11th June 1896 under the guise of German treaties, previously signed by the chiefs for protection and friendship towards their villages. The trial was presided over by Major Mueller and 2 serving German army officers. Nguvauva and Kavikunua did not have the right to any legal counsel or understand any of the evidence presented against them. They were found guilty of planning a rebellion. Eleven other chiefs were found guilty as accessories and sentenced to imprisonment and detention. There was no appeal allowed against any conviction, no reprieve or appeal for clemency to the Kaiser was forthcoming either. The day after their conviction, the condemned men were carried by ox-cart through the village to their places of execution.

Witnesses on the 13th June 1896 declared that, 'he (Nguvauva) conducted himself with great dignity as he walked to stand in front of the firing squad'. It was reported at the time that Chief Kambahahiza 'walked with firm strides and spat at (German) Lieutenant Graf Kageneck and said: 'If you are going to execute us, start with Kambahahiza, for should you kill me first, Kambahahiza will be anguished'. Nguvauva was shot and killed, while Kavikunua was hanged. Kavikunua's body was cut from the tree and taken to Okahandja where he was buried. Nguvauva's body was buried where he was executed.

The grave of Kahimemua Nguvauva is situated on an erf along Kahimemua Avenue in Okahandja. It was officially proclaimed a national monument on 7th February 1980.

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