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Mandume ya Ndemafayo's Memorials in Namibia and Angola

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Mandume ya Ndemafayo's Memorials in Namibia and Angola


"Mandume has fought two colonial powers, Portugal and British-South Africa from the time he became king in 1911 to 1917. This thesis looks at the different ways in which Mandume ya Ndemufayo is remembered in Namibia and Angola after these countries had gained their independence from colonialism. His bravery in fighting the colonizers has awarded him hero status and he is considered a nationalist hero in both Namibia and Angola. However, he is memorialized differently in Namibia and Angola. The process of remembering Mandume in different ways is related to where his body and head are buried respectively. This is because there is a belief that his body was beheaded, and his head was buried in Windhoek (under a monument) while the rest of his body is buried in Angola. The monument that is alleged to host his head is claimed to belong to him to this day. However, this monument was erected for the fallen South African troops who died fighting him. I argue that this belief was in response to the need to reclaim a monumental space to commemorate Mandume in the capital city.

In the postcolonial Namibia and Angola, Mandume is memorialized at Heroes Acre and Mandume Memorial respectively. There are also other forms of his memorialisation in both countries such as roads, streets etc, named after him. I am most interested in finding if the two countries share Mandume or they are competing for him. If they share him, how are the politics around his memory negotiated? I argue that Mandume is used as a tool in processes of nation-building for Namibia and Angola. He is considered a nationalist icon to bring about unity amongst people in both countries. This is because national unity, nationhood, identity and reclamation of the self are all evident in the memorial work that is put in Mandume’s name in these two countries. I argue that the notion of nationhood associated with Mandume ya Ndemufayo has hidden agendas in the two countries. Mandume’s monuments in Angola and Namibia service national healing processes especially to unify nations that were divided by civil war and apartheid laws respectively. For both countries, the formal honouring of anti-colonial fighter such as Mandume obviously promotes the recovery of nations that underwent violent conflict.

I conclude that these two countries use Mandume as a resource in the nation-building process to unify their people respectively and this consequently divides the Kwanyama people, which is the opposite of what Mandume was doing. As long as his memory is used this way by postcolonial Namibia and Angola, the Kwanyamas will never be united and the Mandume issue will never rest because it was his goal, as he was trying to unite his people who were divided by a colonial border."


Napandulwe Shiweda


University of the Western Cape




Bernard C. Moore


PDF File




M.A. Dissertation



Napandulwe Shiweda, “Mandume ya Ndemafayo's Memorials in Namibia and Angola,” Namibia Digital Repository, accessed January 22, 2019,

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