Source: New Era
IKUMWE – A cultural revolution of some sort unfolded recently when for the first time the Masubia Traditional Authority selected a woman as the senior induna (senior headman or tribal chief), for Ikumwe area, some 55 kilometres east of Katima Mulilo.

The new senior headman, Francesca Norah Nalisa, will now hold fort in the traditional court (called the khuta) that has predominantly been led by men.

She emerged victorious as a woman induna during the election in September last year, thus breaking a code that has existed for generations and that has been somewhat considered a taboo.

Nalisa conceded that she did not contest the race without a bitter fight considering that her male counterparts' perception of women leadership is that of performing menial jobs such as household chores.

"Elections were on the 9th of September last year. During the elections there was some intimidation from some men who felt the role of induna does not befit a woman. I had to be bold. I was even threatened with death but in the end I managed to win," said Nalisa boldly with a grin.

Nalisa's role is to oversee the Ikumwe area particularly the adjudication of land squabbles and developmental issues and referring unresolved issues to the Masubia traditional headquarters of Bukalo, under whose jurisdiction her traditional khuta falls. "We are answerable to the Bukalo Khuta in terms of what we do. We will look at issues pertaining to land, particularly land disputes. I have to urge people to learn to come to meetings," said Nalisa.

Of particular interest to Nalisa is sparking youth interest in traditional matters which she feels is lacking and often puts the youth at the receiving end of development initiatives. "We want to focus much on the youth because when we call meetings, only the elders attend. There's this misconception by the youth that traditional matters are only for elders. I want to use the Village Development Committee to encourage young people. We get solutions to problems of unemployment through meetings. Development projects are being created through these meetings," said the progressive induna.

Francesca Norah Nalisa, the first woman to be appointed as senior induna, or senior traditional tribal chief for Masubia Traditional Authority for Ikumwe in the Zambezi Region.

Francesca Norah Nalisa, will now hold fort in the traditional court (called the khuta) that has predominantly been led by men.

Nalisa is no stranger to leadership roles having worked as a qualified teacher for more than 16 years and currently serves as the chairperson of the Ikumwe Combined School Board. She has held several other leadership roles before having retired in 2010 as a teacher, including being a chairperson in the Roman Catholic Church from 2005 to 2011 and currently leads the Legion of Mary in St Francis Mission at Rundu Diocese.

Like many children of parents that were persecuted and imprisoned by the apartheid regime, Nalisa was forced to go to college early after Form Two (which is now equivalent to Grade 9) to be able to take care of her younger siblings when she was only about 18 years old, an era that ushered in her leadership prowess that would later culminate in the person she is today.

Although representing a monumental change never seen before in the history of the region, Nalisa has inherited countless challenges she hopes to overcome with time and determination. "We currently have no structure for the khuta whatsoever to hold our sessions. We cannot continue solving matters under a tree. I urge any good Samaritan to help us. We also have no financial resources. I have decided that we open a bank account where our monies will be deposited. We are still asking benefactors to help us out," appealed the 64-year-old Nalisa.

Nalisa an ardent farmer herself with livestock and vegetable gardens at her home village, revealed plans for projects aimed at containing poverty in her area of jurisdiction. "I want to encourage the youth to get involved in development projects. We need to intensify meetings with the Village Development Committee (VDC). I contemplate starting a kindergarten, a sewing project, breeding chickens and doing gardening," said Nalisa. Nalisa was born in Luhonono formerly Schuckmannsburg and is the elder sister to former parliamentarian Patricia Siska.


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