This article examines two closely related themes: the triangle of tradition, capital and the state; and resistance to neotraditional leadership and local activism for democracy. I investigate an uprising in the Topnaar Traditional Authority in the Erongo region of Namibia by young community activists who aimed to promote democracy in their community in a context of manifold accusations of self-enrichment and corruption against the neotraditional leadership. The article demonstrates that the corporatization of tradition is a double-edged sword: neotraditional leaders expand their local power towards their subjects in the short term, but it often produces severe conflict that may result in the delegitimization of neotraditional authority in the long run. However, the Topnaar youth uprising and quest for democracy was less about challenging neotraditional authority per se and more about replacing the incumbents as well as obtaining a fair share of political power. It resulted from the perception that the neotraditional-cum-corporate ventures no longer served the cause of a common good; this, in turn, contradicted the general ideal of equality among the Topnaar. The corporatization of tradition thus generated local grievances and stimulated demands for democratic participation. Since the uprising gained at least some of its momentum from my research on neotraditional authority, I also reflect on my role.