“Oye Kalunga kaNamhongo” -Tribute to Pastor Hulda Shau

By Shivute Kaapanda [Think-Tank Africa]

In discussing the African orientation of the concept of God we often talk about the African indigenous knowledge system which helps us to connect to ourselves more as Africans.

And this is something which few clergymen and women don’t do openly.

Only the radical and progressive few pastors like the late MeeHulda Nashipe yaShau from Omhakoya village in Ombaanhu, a pastor of the ELCIN church who was also serving as a chaplain at Oluno Correctional Facility from 2016 until her recent soulful departure.

During our radical conversation in September 2018 at Ondangwa I was fascinated for the first time in my entire life that I had a positive conversation with an ordained pastor about the concept of an African orientation of God other than the Christian version of which most Christians suffer an overdose every Sunday.

After I questioned her on whether our African system of beliefs in God is independent of the Christian version which was as a matter of fact and history brought by white missionaries.

I went further to seek confirmation from her if we Africans who are Aawambo had a god of our own before the arrival of the missionaries.

She proudly replied in perfect Oshimbaanhu vocabulary. “Otu na kalunga ketu, oye naanaa Kalunga kaNamhongo, Kalunga kaNangombe, Nangombe yaKavu kaMangundu mwene weshito alihe. Oye naanaa ngo.” Loosely translated as “We have our own god, that is the God of Namhongo, the God of Nangombe, Nangombe of Kavu, Kavu of Mangundu the owner of the whole creation”.

At this point one would have already noticed that there is a mistranslation as the word ‘God’ in a Christian context cannot really be equated to the word ‘Kalunga’ as used in the translations of the Christian Bible.

History has it that in the past the Aawambo people and the Ovaherero branched off from the same ancestor god-brothers called “Kalunga” and “Kazu” to form different tribes and clans. Oral history alleges that Kalunga and Kazu were all sons of Nangombe who was the son of Mangundu the chief god.

The Ovaherero ended up worshipping Kazu as their tribal god and the Aawambo of that time ended up worshipping Kalunga when the two split.

The version of the late pastor MeeHulda Nashipe Shau is correctly understood in this context of African consciousness of tribal gods as it was the case in our African history of spirituality until the white missionaries came to place all of us under one roof as “children of the god of heaven”.

Africans, by the nature of their spiritual orientation, belong to different spiritual frequencies determined by their clans which are often linked to both their maternal and paternal lineages and totemic identifications.

Pastor Shau is therefore in this case remembered as an Africanist pastor with a traditional knowledge of self, who used her African traditional stamina of indigenous knowledge to go beyond the boundaries of Christianity’s mind-cuffs to come to society as an African pastor who found herself in the chains of a foreign religion, and who ultimately broke it in our conversations.

This is something of which many pastors and even bishops are scared to speak out due to their lack of decolonized theology, with the exception of ELCIN’s senior Bishop Shekutaamba VV Nambala who authored an African-based indigenous knowledge book called “Omazimo GAawambo” and pastor Laban Mwashekele who recently authored a book “Decolonizing Biblical Christianity, Reforming the African mind”, something which is a good sign of decolonization of the African people with regard to Christianity.

May the spirit of African consciousness blow into the minds of many church leaders one day so that theology begin to be reformed radically. Pastor Hulda Shau will become one of those whom the ancestry will embrace for her brave consciousness and staunch belief in the spirit of Kalunga kaNangombe.

I really have learned a lot from meeHulda Shau in a single conversation. If time and space had permitted we could have more conversations of this type with her. It’s very unfortunate to have her gone.

We have lost a woman of wisdom; but we may meet her again in the African ancestry of Kalunga kaNangombe. May the ancestry welcome her as a brave Africanist and woman of steel as we continue to remember her work of peace, loyalty and bravely.

Can MeeHulda pass our greetings to the late tribal Ombaanhu kings of Ishitile yaShiweva, Ndaafita yaMwaalwa naKamhaku kaHuhwa.

May her soul rest in perfect peace.

# Shivute Kaapanda is a pan-Africanist writer from Eyanda village; he is also a columnist and the author of the book called “The Conscious Republic’iskaapanda@gmail.com