News and Information

June 16, 2005

In this article, we chose to use the word controversial strip in the heading not because we as CAPRIVIANS do not understand the events taking place in CAPRIVI. It also doesn’t mean that we don’t know the history of our motherland. This word has been used because a number of scholars and academicians have written numerous articles on the Caprivi. The majority of these articles either have distorted facts and information or the author wrote to please him-self or whoever sent him or her. This has become the main purpose for writing this paper. As a matter of fact and as the authentic representative of our people, it is our duty and responsibility to set the record straight. People must know the facts about the history, politics, economics and social life of Caprivians.


The Caprivi Zipfel commonly known as the Caprivi Strip is situated in the southern hemisphere in the continent of Africa. It lies about half way between the equator and the southern tip of Africa and mid way between the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Four perennial rivers surround it, the mighty Zambezi in the north, Chobe, Linyandi, and Kwandoin the south, and southeast and the Kavango River in the west. The Caprivi is land locked and shares borders with four countries, namely Zambia in the north and northeast; Botswana in the southeast, south and northwest; Namibia the west and Angola in the northwest. Some people say we share a border with Zimbabwe, that could be true to them but as far we are concerned, only the Caprivians water meets the Zimbabwean waters.



From as back as 1600, the Caprivi then known as Linyandi was part of Bulozi {Barotseland protectorate} the present day western province of Zambia. The Lozi Kings ruled that part of the world until 1890 when the British signed an agreement with the Germans to exchange Linyandi for Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean and Heligoland in the pacific. Let mention here that in the eighteen eighty five (1885) Berlin conference German had acquired two Africa territories, the German south West Africa and German East Africa Tanganyika, including Zanzibar. The British on the other hand had taken the majority of southern Africa including Bulozi, which was under their sphere of influence in 1887. Some scholars maintain that the Caprivi was part of South West Africa. This assertion is far from being true, because if this was the case, why did the Germans approach the British to ask for a passage way to the Zambezi River? The truth of the matter is that while South West Africa was a German territory, Linyandi (Caprivi) together with Bulozi was a British protectorate. This clearly shows that the Caprivi was never colonized in the true sense of the word. We can also safely state that the Germans had no intentions of colonizing the Caprivi neither did they want it for administrative purposes, they only wanted it to have access to the Zambezi River which would take them to Tanganyika.


As stated earlier an agreement was signed between the Germans and the British in 1890 allocating the Caprivi to the German in exchange for the two mentioned Islands. It was also mentioned that the Germans didn’t want the Caprivi for administrative purposes. This can be clearly proven by the fact that from 1890 to 1909 there was no physical presence of the Germans in the Caprivi. The first German Hoptman Streit Wolf arrived in the area on the first of February 1909 and set his camp at Luhonono present day Schuchmansburg, on the bank of the Zambezi river some few kilometers from Mwandi formally Sisheke in Zambia. This man demarcated the boundaries between the present day Zambia and the Caprivi. It was Mr. Streit Wolf who changed the name of the area from Linyandi to the Caprivi Zipfel in honor of the German chancellor Leon Count Von Caprivi. The German’s stay in the Caprivi was short lived because of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, when the Caprivi was retaken by the British military up-till 1918 when the Caprivi was transferred to South Africa. The distance from South Africa forced the British to govern the Caprivi through Bechuanaland protectorate from 1921-1929. Some people misinterpret this and say Caprivi became part of Botswana during that period. Far from it, the Caprivi was just administered together with Botswana and it was never made part of Botswana. In 1929, the Caprivi was transferred by the British to be governed through South West Africa. It is important to note that the South West Africa Administration was forced by the Union government of South Africa to administer the Caprivi Zipfel. In this request, three reasons were cited as reasons for their rejection to ad minister the Caprivi Zipfel. First, they mentioned that its geographical position didn’t allow it to be part of South West Africa, which is a clear indication that up-till that year the Caprivi was not part of South West Africa. By rejecting to administer it, it means that the Caprivi was never made part of South West Africa at any time. Second, they also cited distance as the other two reasons for their rejection. The distance never changed and up-till now the Caprivi is still remote. We are wondering as to why Namibia still wants to cling to it. The League of Nations was informed of the transfer and proclamation no# 147 of 1939 confirmed the transfer of the administration of the Caprivi Strip from South West Africa directly to Pretoria-South Africa. In their report the League of Nations expressed the hope that the Union government would comply with their mandate to devote more time to the welfare of the native population. The South African government notices no # 1210of 1940 confirm the declaration of Caprivi Strip as Bantu reserve under South African rule. The above reason shows that the Caprivi was, is and would not be part of Namibia.

In 1968, the South African parliament passed a very important Legislation, Act no 39 of 1968. This legislation provided that “ no act of the parliament of South Africa and no ordinance of the legislative Assembly of then territory of South West Africa passed on or after the 1st day of November 1951 would apply in that part of the said territory, that was demarcated and known as the Eastern Caprivi Zipfel”. In terms of this legislation, the Caprivi couldn’t follow any legislation from either South Africa or South West Africa, and latter Namibia was and still is illegal since this legislation was not repealed and that Caprivians were not involved when it was repealed in 1999. This proves beyond doubts that the Caprivi was never part of South West Africa and that the Caprivians’ claim for independence is legitimate.


The Chiefs in the Caprivi started politics by resting certain apartheid legislations, some of which were the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools, Land reform and utilization and nature conservation. Many scholars maintain that the first political party CANU in the Caprivi was formed inside the country. This is not true. The idea of forming a political party was born in Mafikeng where four (4) Caprivians were studying at a college. The idea was started by Mr. Mishake Muyongo after having been influenced by the politics of South Africa, particularly that of the ANC. He sold this idea to his three colleagues namely; Mason Liseli Mamili, George Mutwa and Charles Mubuyaeta Mubiana who welcomed the idea with open arms. When they came home on holiday, this idea was spread all over the Caprivi. The majority of the people in Caprivi accepted it and demanded the formation of a political party. The name, which was proposed by Mr. Mishake Muyongo in Mafikeng in 1961, was endorsed in 1963. It is often said that its first President Mr. Brendan Kangongolo Simbwae led the Caprivi African National Union into exile.
As stated earlier, CANU was formed in 1963 with Mr. Brendan K Simbwae as the first president, Mr. Mishake Muyongoo as vice president and Mr. Zakaria Ndopu as the Secretary General. After these elections, the president was sent to Zambia by the party polity-biro to go and print some membership cards. It was during this first trip that Mr. Simbwae came into contact with the people of South West Africa. It was here under the leadership of Sam Nujoma for the first time that Mr. Sam Nujoma came up with the idea of merging with a view to fighting a common enemy but the CANU president declined. He returned back to the Caprivi within two weeks and sold these membership cards. Given the popularity of the party CANU, in the Caprivi, the membership cards didn’t last long and so in early 1964 he had to return to Zambia to print other membership cards. It was during his second trip that he was arrested by the South African security forces operating in Caprivi. He was arrested with two others namely; Venet Maswahu and one other. This was the last time that the party saw their president. On hearing that their president was arrested the party organized a big meeting in which they were going to discuss their president’s arrest and the way forward. It was unfortunate that this meeting reached the ears of the South African security forces through their informants. On the day of the meeting late in the evening of the second August 1964 the South African security forces pounced on the CANU members who were meeting at Mafulo (where the high way supermarket is situated today). There was a serious clash between CANU and the South African security forces. Though they were no casualties on both sides, a number of the South African informants sustained injuries. This very same evening CANU leadership led by Mr. Albert Mishake Muyongo went into exile in Zambia. They opened a temporal CANU office at Sisheke, which served as a recruiting office for all the people who wanted to join CANU in exile. Shortly there after, the CANU leadership was transferred to Lusaka where for the first time they met with Mr. Sam Nujoma and group. At this meeting Sam Nujoma representing SWAPO, repeated the same suggestion that he gave to the CANU President of merging the two organizations in order to fight a common enemy. The CANU leadership didn’t want this merger to an extent that Swapo had to use the influence of the Zambian President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda and Mr. Nalumino Mundiato convince the CANU leadership into accepting the merger. The merger was signed on 5 November 1964 in Lusaka Zambia. However they were conditions to this merger some of which are the following:

1. To fight a common enemy, the South African regime that was illegally occupying the two countries.
2. At the attainment of independence, the people of the Caprivi must be asked whether they want to join Namibia or remain independent.
3. If the first President comes from Swapo, then CANU must automatically produce the vice president and vice-versa.
4. It shouldn’t be compulsory that a CANU card carrying member be forced to have a Swapo membership card.

The second condition above is currently our most bones of contention. Instead of being asked whether we want to be part of Namibia or not, the Namibian government imposed themselves on Caprivians. It is therefore that the Caprivi case is question of forced occupation. The Namibian government never honored their end of the bargain. This is what Caprivians are fighting against. They want to remove the neo black colonialists who are currently oppressing them. It also goes without saying that there is no better colonialism and oppression; it becomes ever worse when these ills are being practiced by a black man. The time for colonialism have long gone, Caprivians must be free.

Problems started in exile when Swapo started discriminating Caprivians. The main causes for this discrimination, was the fact that the Caprivians leadership was more educated than their Swapo counterpart. Mr. Muyongo was able to use his skills and abilities together with his convincing language, advocating for support in Swapo. His followers also proved more intelligent and skillful in both military and education. The Swapo leadership saw that Caprivians were becoming a threat. They feared that Caprivians would end up running the whole show. It is also important to mention here that Sam Nujoma felt threatened that Mr. Muyongo might take over the presidency given his popularity in Swapo and the international community. Given the above facts Caprivians started experiencing various forms of humiliations; many of them were arrested and tortured just because they were Mr. Muyongo’s followers. Many of them disappeared mysteriously. This forced their leader to question this type of treatment. This questioning gave Mr. Nojuma a loophole to label Mr. Muyongo as a tribalist, when in fact he was trying to show Swapo that they had an agreement, one of the conditions of which was not to discriminate against members of the two organizations. It is clear from this that Mr. Nujoma and his organization started violating the merger while still in exile. Mr. Muyongo eventually found himself imprisoned and later forced to leave Swapo to seek refuge in Dakar, Senegal. Any body who read Mr. Nujoma’s autobiography and compare it with the history of Swapo political struggle will realize this discrimination. For instance, Mr. Moses Malamo was the first plan commander but was never mentioned in his book. Another plan commander of renowned importance in the ranks of Swapo was Mr. Greenwell Matongo but was never mentioned in his book. The first ambassador to Algeria, Mr. Francis Samuel Musialela is one other man who is never mentioned in Sam Nujoma’s book. The only one reason that could be cited was that they were Caprivians. According to the Namibians review of December 1999, page 10, the Namibian politician quoted 19 repeated charges of discrimination within Swapo against CANU supporters and charges of Ovambo tribalism. This is strong confirmation that Caprivians suffered severely at the hands of Sam Nujoma and his organization.

In 1985 Mr. Muyongo and three others Messrs Siyongo Godwin, David Mutabelezi and Gideon Matengu Mwilima returned home from Senegal. Being the president of CANU Mr. Muyongo’s main aim was to revive it at home as to advocate the independence of Caprivi. To his disappointment, he found that CANU was now divided on tribal lines. He had no option but to start advocating for unity in the entire Caprivi. Under his guidance, all the political parties in Caprivi including CANU were disbanded with a view of forming a strong united party. This saw the birth of the United Democratic Party (UDP), on the 5th August 1985, its congress was held on the 26 August 1985. At this congress, Mr. Muyongo was elected president and Mr. Cooks Mukuwa as a vice president while Mr. Patrick Mafulo Limbo was elected Secretary General of the party. Like its predecessor CANU, the United Democratic Party advocated for an independent Caprivi, there for took over the aims and objectives of CANU.
In 1989, the UN resolution 435 was to be implemented, Namibia was to attain independence. Various political parties in Namibia were to be registered in order to participate in the elections. How ever the Caprivi was now in a trick situation.
On the one hand the United Democratic Party was advocating for an independent Caprivi, on the other the Caprivian chiefs who had been made members of the then council of ministers and later government of national unity were of the opinion that should the Caprivi become independent they would loose their positions and the new Caprivian government would be run by politicians and not chiefs. As a result they wanted to remain with Namibia; little did they realize that the incoming swapo government would also be run by politicians and not chiefs. Given the fact Caprivians were more traditionalists than politicians and that they did not want to disappoint their chiefs. The UDP under the leadership of Mr. Muyongo was requested by the people at the invitation of the Democratic Turn hale Alliance (DTA) to affiliate itself with the said umbrella organization. This affiliation took place in 1989, in this same year Mr. Muyongo was made President of the umbrella organization. Despite this affiliation, the people of the Caprivi were still mindful of the fact that there was a merger between Swapo and CANU, which was not yet realized and that Caprivi must be independent.
The question that the Caprivi case was not mentioned in parliament is in the first place not correct, because on numerous occasions the president of UDP reminded the Swapo party to honor their agreement. It is also on record that one Caprivian parliamentarian was almost suspended from parliament just because he said he represented Caprivians. In fact any Caprivian who mentioned the idea of a merger was often labeled a tribalist and received a harsh opposition from Swapo. The UDP’s affiliation with the DTA ended on January 1999.

United Democratic Party (UDP)

The article will be continued in the next issue.


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