And Then the Founding Father Did the Nama-Stap

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By Francis Mukuzunga If all that the students at the University of Namibia (UNAM) were waiting for when the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation and Chancellor, Dr Sam Nujoma, was addressing them last Thursday were the proverbial and famous finger-pointing gestures to emphasize a point, they probably got more than that. And when it did come, cheers and applause of appreciation could be heard from the stadium terraces. Dr Nujoma was officiating as a keynote speaker at the UNAM Cultural Festival for 2006 and was the darling of the show. Speaking in his typical ‘Oshiwambo-English tone’, and after all protocol was observed, Dr Nujoma coined the phrase: “Azz-you’re-all-aweyaa!” meaning, “As you are all aware…” much to more applause and giggles from students and invited guests alike. Each time the Founding Father digressed from his prepared speech, students would go wild to his humorous antics. “Fellow students,” the Chancellor, who is currently studying for an MA in Geology, addressed his colleagues. “Now if they (developed countries) say our iron is of low quality, we must prove them wrong. We have diamonds, uranium and other minerals. I want you to say that it is possible for Namibia to manufacture its own car made of Namibian iron and engine-fitted diamonds,” he told the ecstatic students and invited guests. It did not end there. When the UNAM Basters or Nama Cultural group’s turn came to showcase their dancing skills and attire, the Founding Father took time to join the group to do the ‘Nama-Stap’ as it is called. The Nama ladies were clad in their traditional maids’ uniforms while the guys wore the patchwork suit, typical of their cultural background. They waltzed around in unison – much to the amazement of everyone around. Not to be outdone by the Nama Group and the Founding Father were the Ongoro noMundu concert dancers. For those not in the know, Namibian concert music, mostly sung in traditional Otjiherero but synthesized to modern music by the younger generation, has taken Namibia by storm. Groups such as the Wild Dog are currently dominating the local charts. But this was not Wild Dog, it was the Ongoro noMundu, appropriately meaning: “A man and his horse” – perhaps in reference to a famous statue in town. As soon as the talented group of 12 young men and women from the university took to the stage, the whole stadium was set alight. Who could not join in when the dancers, dressed to the pin in maroon and white attire, entered in perfect choreography, to the melodious rhythms and songs of the day? To put the cherry on the cake, a group of female students, all dressed in the typically colourful Herero Victorian gear, marched in and showed everyone what Namibia is all about. Among the most fancy-dressed in the Herero outfit were: Emelda Kavirindi (23), who is studying B.Sc Environmental Biology, Jennifer Kandjii (21), B.Sc Chemistry and Joyline Tjahere (24), BA Library Studies. Yours truly could not help but be mesmerized by the apparent beauty and brains. Of course, other cultural groups, representing almost every region of Namibia, were there, and they did their part, including Bana baBotlhaba, a Tswana group led by Jumo Msimane (23). One could have mistaken the group’s performance for that of the Tswana people in Botswana, South Africa or any other parts of Africa they are found because of their brown skins, attire and movement to the rhythm and sound. Other groups which took part are the Katutura Cultural Group who came up with an Afro fusion mix, the Oshinda Nonghendi Cultural Group who demonstrated the Oshiwambo music, dress and dance. The increasingly popular UNAM Choir gave a melodious rendition of well-known Namibian songs and, of course, the Miss UNAM and Mr Face of UNAM contestants gave the show what it needed best – diversity. Appropriately themed: ‘Eradicating Poverty through Cultural Integration’ the festival proved that culture can indeed play a role in uniting people. SRC President, Kadiva Nghipondoka, said the theme was chosen in order to promote cultural integration and create a spirit of understanding among people. “We as students believe that if we learn to integrate our cultural diversity while at the university, this will help create a better world for our society,” she said. True to her word, the UNAM Cultural Festival provided just that. With the gracing of the event by the Founding Father and all that took place over the three-day period, the cultural festival really lived up to its expectations.