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Alfeus Kanambunga
Active 1952 to 1990
Protestant Unity Church (Ethiopian independent)
Namibia

Prophet Alfeus Kanambunga was a founding leader of the Oruuano Church, with Pastor Reinhard Ruzo. He was originally from Kalkfeld (Omaruru district), where he attended the catechism class and was baptized by a Herero pastor of the Rhenish Mission Church, Pastor Tjirutue.

In 1933, and again in 1938, Kanambunga felt the call of Christ to leave his home and become a prophet in Kaokoland (northwestern Erongo region). Eventually, by 1952, he settled in Kaokoland at a place called Ekoto. He was called by God to settle at the "mountain" of Ekoto, where he would be equipped for leadership (Sundermeier 1973:156). Ekoto had a mountain cliff with a perennial fountain, and a waterfall. This was the prophet's "Jordan" with his own "Sinai" and the "Mount Gethsemane" where God could speak to him.

At Ekoto, Kanambunga built his own congregation, in an area barred from "white" missionary access, where he preached to a heathen community. His fame as a prophet started to spread simultaneously with that of prophet Mokaleng of Botswana (Sundermeier 1973:156).

Kanambunga visited Jacob Mokaleng in Botswana, who "exercised great influence over him" (Kanduvazu 1968:29). Although the time of this visit is not given, it must have been during Mokaleng's first years of fame (1952). Some Herero people argued that Kanambunga was trained for a prophetic ministry by Mokaleng, while others maintained that Kanambunga got his prophetic gifts independently from any outside influence (for the latter argument, see Sundermeier 1973:155).

There were many parallels between prophet Kanambunga and prophet Mokaleng and many similarities in their work: like Mokaleng, Kanambunga could not read or write, and had no formal theological education (Sundermeier 1973:160). "Others read the Bible to him and he memorized portions of it, especially from the Old Testament prophets… He had the 'gift of 'sight'; the ability to diagnose the causes of an illness, ... to interpret dreams and visions, and to foretell future events" (Friesen 1994:44).

Like Mokaleng, the main emphasis of Kanambunga's ministry was ritual purity and healing. Pastor Ruzo visited Kanambunga for the healing of his feet (although he later also visited Mokaleng for his feet and for the blessing of the Herero flag, called Otjiserandu.)(Kandovazu 1968:29). Every Herero person had the duty to go to Kanambunga to receive healing, holy water and blessing.

In 1957, Kanambunga issued an order that no contact should be maintained with the Rhenish Mission, as they were ritually unclean (Sundermeier 1973:119-120). In January 1969, Kanambunga prophesied that Jesus Christ would appear on the Waterberg with the heathen Maharero, together with the Christian Samuel Maharero. Three transport vehicles loaded with Hereros arrived for the occasion. When Jesus did not appear, it was said that the visitors had arrived too late, that Christ with the two big ones had already departed (Sundermeier 1973:201, footnote 152).

The emphasis on clean/unclean (ritual purity) led to further disagreements and secessions from the Oruuano. Kandovazu provided a historical critique of these secessions and their theological basis.[1]

Gerhard Buys and Shekutaamba Nambala


Notes:

1. This story is taken from Buys & Nambala p. 186.
Bibliography:

Main source

Buys, G. L. & Nambala, S. V. V. 2003. History of the Church in Namibia 1805 - 1990, an Introduction. Windhoek: Gamsberg Macmillan.
Namibia Research Institute (www.nets.iway.na/research)

Unpublished & Published References

1994 Field Directory: SDA in Namibia. Unpublished church data-sheet of the Namibian field, supplied by Rev. Coombs, SDA Field President of the Central Region.

Beris, A. P. J. 1996. From Mission to Local Church: One hundred years of mission by the Catholic Church in Namibia, with special reference to the development of the Archdiocese of Windhoek and the Apostolic Vicariate of Rundu. Windhoek: John Meinert.

Buys, G. L. 1983. Die holistiese sendingbenadering in die ekumeniese diskussie met besondere verwysing na die Kerk en Sending in Suidwes-Afrika/Namibië. Unpublished D.Th. thesis, University of Stellenbosch.

Christians, N. C. 1957. Afrikaanse Metodisme, 'n Kort oorsig: Richard Allen, vader van die Afrikaanse Metodisme in Suidwes-Afrika. Keetmanshoop: Unpublished manuscript.

Friesen, R. H. 1994. "Origins of the Spiritual Healing Church in Botswana" in Oosthuizen, Kitshoff, Dube (Ed). Afro-Christianity at the Grassroots, Its Dynamics and Strategies. New York: E. J. Brill, p.37-50.

Hellberg, C.-J. 1979. A Voice of the Voiceless - The Involvement of the Lutheran World Federation in Southern Africa 1947-1977. Lund: Skeab Verbum.

Hoeflich, K. F. 1961. "In und nach dem Zweiten Weltkriege: 20 Jahre kirchliche Arbeit," in Afrikanischer Heimatkalender, pp. 82-85.

Hunke, N. 1996. Church and State: 100 years of Catholic Mission in Namibia. Windhoek: RCC, John Meinert Printers.

Kamburona, A. C. 1975. Church Order of Oruuano. Unpublished manuscript.

Kandovazu, E. 1968. Die Oruuano-Beweging. Karibib, ELK Boekdepot.

Kritzinger, J. J. 1972, Sending en Kerk in Suidwes-Afrika - Band I & II. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Pretoria. (references to pages in the first volume are indicated by normal page numbers, while pages from the second volume are indicated by adding 'b' in front of the particular page numbers).

Lau, B. (Ed.). 1995b. An Investigation of the Shooting at the Old Location on 10 December 1959. Windhoek: DISCOURSE/MSORP Publications.

Nieuwoudt, M. M. 1979a. Die Nedertduitse Gereformeerde Kerk in Suidwes-Afrika. Woordbediening in pioniersomstandighede op weg na 'n selfstandige sinode, 'n kerkhistoriese studie. Unpublished D.Th. thesis, Stellenbosch University.

Oosthuizen, H. Z. M. 1995. Eerwaarde E.J. Leonard: Pionier van die Boere-gemeenskap. Unpublished M.Th. dissertation at the University of the Orange Free State, Bloemfontein.

Pakenham, T. 1979. The Boer War. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson. (or the Afrikaans version 1981. Die Boere Oorlog. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball.)

Pöllitzer 1978: Die eigene Kerze anzünden! Untersuching zu Entstehung, Lehre, Leitung und Leben in der Oruuano. (The Protestant Unity Church of South West Africa). Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Pretoria.

Robson, N. and A. Luff. 1999a. A short history of the Anglican Church in northern Namibia, 1924-1999. Unpublished bound manuscript.

Robson, N. and A. Luff. 1999b. A history of the Anglican Church. (The longer edition). Unpublished manuscript.

Shejavali, A. 1970b. The Ovambo-Kavango Church.(Ongerki Yomowambokavango). Helsinki: Kauppakirjapaino Oy, pp. 24-32 (this title is often referred to simply as OKC).

Strassberger, E. 1969. The Rhenish Mission Society in South Africa, 1830-1950. Cape Town: C. Struik.

Sundermeier, T. 1973. Wir aber suchten Gemeinschaft, Kirchwerdung und Kirchentrennung in Südwestafrika. Erlangen, Luther Verlag.

Voipio, R. 1972a. History of the Evangelical Lutheran Ovambo Kavango Church. Oniipa: ELOK (the English translation of the 1968 Afrikaans edition).


Church periodicals

Immanuel, monthly journal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN).

CCN Information, monthly journal of the Council of Churches in Namibia, during the nineteen-eighties.


Interviews & questionnaires

Christians, N. C. 2002. Unpublished notes forwarded on request to Buys, on 22 May 2002. Rev. Nicholas Christians was the pastor of the Trinity AME Church in Keetmanshoop for an uninterrupted period of 43 years (1953 - 1997). In 1998, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Wilberforce Institute of the AMEC in USA.

Mubonenwa, L. 1997. Response of Pastor Mubonenwa on the Questionnaire forwarded by Buys, dated 25 September 1997. Pastor Mubonenwa is the present Field President of the North East Namibia Field of the SDA Church.

Tjijombo, P. 2002. Interview of Buys with Bishop Petrus Tjijombo on 18 January 2002 at his house. Bishop Tjijombo was the founder and still active leader of the St. John's AFM in Namibia when this interview took place, after a ministry which started in 1953. The photo of his ministry starting in that year in the "old location" was unfortunately too bad to use in this publication.

Witbooi, H. 2002. Interview of Buys with the honourable Dr. Hendrik Witbooi, in Windhoek, on the history of Evangelists Petrus Jod and Marcus Witbooi. Dr. Witbooi is the son of Pastor Marcus Witbooi, who was a founder member of the AMEC in Namibia. At the time of the interview, Dr. Witbooi was Deputy Prime Minister in the Namibian government and leader of the AMEC (African Methodist Episcopal Church) in Namibia.



This article is reproduced, with permission, from History of the Church in Namibia, an Introduction - 1805-1990, Gamsberg Macmillan, Windhoek, Namibia, copyright © November 2003 by Dr. Gerhard Buys and Dr. Shekutaamba Nambala. All rights reserved.