A FORM Four student aged 16 has become Zimbabwe’s youngest traditional chief after being installed by the government on Thursday following the death of his father in 2010.
The young Chief, Oueheng Marupi was installed in a ceremony attended by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Matabeleland South Governor Angeline Masuku in Ntepe, Gwanda.
His father previously held the position.
Oueheng Marupi was thrust into the position as leader of his people.
Minister Chombo helped the young chief wear his red and purple chief's gown. Chief Marupi was also kitted with bracelets on his neck, a badge of identification and a helmet of power.
Lastly, he was given a walking stick before his messenger, headmen and village heads bowed before him in a show of acceptance and allegiance.
Chombo told hundreds of villagers who turned up to witness the ceremony – joined by the local MP and Senator – that the young chief would be guided by his uncle for the next two years until he turns 18.
The minister said the young chief was born in 1996, and insisted they were right to go ahead with the ceremony because “a chief has no age”.
Chombo said chiefs were mere symbols of power, and they worked on the basis of consultation and advice from wise men.
Locals believe Chombo moved to hold the ceremony to nip in the bud a developing fight in the family for the chieftainship.
Chief Oueheng Marupi’s grandfather – who was succeeded by his father – served between 1976 and 1998 before being jailed. Following his release, he had been trying to reclaim the chieftainship. He attended Thursday’s ceremony.
In interviews, locals said the youthful chief was “not overly enthusiastic about school”, and spent considerable time at the local bar.
He will soon have a government-issued vehicle, a US$300 monthly salary and other perks including free electricity.