Namibian Chief Rallies For Gender Equality

By Clemans Miyanicwe

 Chief Sakarias Seibeb of the Dauredaman Traditional Authority at Nueanab says he supports equality and the empowerment of women and wants them to be given an opportunity to ascend to the throne of his tribe in future.

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The new chief, whose traditional seat is at //Nueanab some 25 kilometres from Uis, revealed he has mooted plans to amend the customary law of the Damara sub-clan to allow women to ascend to chieftainship in future.

Currently, women are prohibited from becoming chiefs by a patriarchal customary law of the Dauredaman and only two out of the 12 traditional authority council members of Dauredaman are women.

The two senior headwomen are Maria /Awaras, wife of the late senior headman Christian /Awarab, and Hanna /Awaras.

“Our laws prevent women from ascending to the chieftainship throne. This can bring chaos, as issues related to women will not be addressed. Women are housekeepers and know how to take care of families, so they need to be on par with men,” Seibeb said in a telephonic interview.

The new chief ascended to the throne last month after the death of Chief Elias Thaniseb (89), who died last July.

He said once the junior council of Dauredaman is established, he would promote equal representation among men and women, who would take up leadership positions.

“I support 50/50 [representation]. We are in a changing world and even though one might oppose, there are consequences. Equal representation is a must and we have to follow this route,” assured the new chief.

According to him, if his community opposes the plans to amend the sub-clan’s customary law to allow equal representation, they must know that the Namibian government wants women to be on par with men.

“The government wants that. The world wants that, and we must follow changes,” Seibeb said.

/Awaras, who oversees ward nine in Kunene Region says women will not oppose Chief Seibeb’s call to amend the customary law to accommodate women. “It will be the best thing for women, as they too will have equal opportunities like men. This is not something that will destroy our sub-clan, as other tribes too have women in leadership positions. So, it is a good initiative,” /Awaras said.

A committee has to be setup to work on changes of the sub-clan’s customary law, but due to financial constraints; such changes might take a while to implement though such plans are afoot. The chief said he would consult with the entire community on the planned appointments of a traditional council.


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