By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The annual celebration of the 2006 /AÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â« //Gams Arts and Cultural festival kicked off in the capital’s Independence Avenue yesterday. Hundreds of Namibians and visitors alike all dressed up in their colourful Spring fashions and cultural attire walked along the main street of the city in celebratory and festive mood. This year’s cultural festival, which runs from the 14th to the 17th of this month, is being held under the theme, in the Thimbukushu dialect, “Thitjo thetu, ghupingwa wetu” which means “Our Culture, Our Heritage”. In his welcoming speech, Mayor of the City of Windhoek, Matheus Shikongo, said the aim of the festival is to expose all Namibian cultures. This will in turn serve as an education tool for every citizen to preserve and respect their cultures at all times. Apart from exposing Small and Medium Enterprises to showcase their products to the public, local artists also have the opportunity to show off their growing talent to the public at such annual events. Shikongo explained that the festival is a time for Namibians and visitors alike to share their cultural diversities in unity. “The /AÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â« //Gams Arts and Cultural Festival is not only for Windhoek, and also not only for its residents. It is an opportunity for the Namibian nation to showcase the diverse cultures in this country,” Shikongo said when addressing close to 500 people at the occasion. The festival is regarded as an ideal opportunity for Namibians to show the rest of the world what it has achieved in its rich cultural diversity, not only in performing arts and music, but also in arts and crafts and the SME business sector. “Promote us as Namibians to be able to act as a team and forge ahead with one vision for the interest of our country,” said the mayor, who is also the patron of the festival. The mayor also welcomed the German cultural group called the Wendische Trachtengruppe Stoebitz from the German town of Cotbuss near Berlin, which came to perform at the local festival. Their presence is highly appreciated as it creates a platform for local and international artists to interact and share experiences with each other as well. Officially opening the /AÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â« //Gams Arts and Cultural Festival, Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Pohamba Shifeta, said the event falls well in line with government’s expectations and aspirations in cultural development as outlined in National Development Plans and Vision 2030. “Our quest for unity must be nourished by our diversity as a source of cultural strength in unity,” said Shifeta, adding that it is only through the sharing of cultures that future generations will be able to inherit the “priceless legacy” of Namibian cultures. Meanwhile, Bank Windhoek, through its arts and culture section again donated N$45ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 to the City of Windhoek towards hosting the event. The British High Commissioner to Namibia, Alisdair McDermott, donated a N$5ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 cheque to the City Mayor at the same occasion. In a brief speech, McDermott said it was good to see that Namibians were also enjoying their own country. “This is the importance of internal tourism and not just visitors coming from outside the country,” he said. Musical shows, cultural performances, selling of traditional cuisine and live band shows will be held during the next three days of the festival.