By Emma Kakololo
Under the theme “Promoting our Cultural Diversity and Its Beauty,” the International University of Management (IUM)’s annual cultural festival kicked off in the capital last week Thursday.
IUM’s Vice-Chancellor Dr David Namwandi at the opening ceremony expressed his contentment that the word “beauty” has been incorporated in this year’s theme.
“I’m particularly pleased because for a long time there was a misconception that anything beautiful had to be measured against white standards. It is encouraging that our young people are beginning to appreciate their individual cultures and African beauty,” he said.
He urged the youth to shift from this fallacy that African culture was inferior to the white man’s culture.
“These were misconceptions that were advanced by former colonial masters and were meant to keep Africans in a position of mental slavery.”
He said while some were indoctrinated by such ‘lies’, there were those who stood their ground to refute this myth, such as former Senegalise President Leopold Senghor; Dr Antonio Augustino Neto, first President of the Peoples Republic of Angola; Mwalimo Julius Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania; Dr Sam Nujoma, Founding Father of the Namibian nation; and Nelson Mandela, first President of the Republic of South Africa who all fought vehemently against the influence of Europeans on African culture and strove to protect it.
“As Africans we need to emulate their noble endeavours,” he urged.
Dr Namwambi is also the founder of the university.
He started a college in the front room of his home in 1994 with three students, which in June 2002 was recognised by the Namibian Government as a university.
He bemoaned that despite African culture being one of sharing, tolerance and caring, the continent was still troubled by corruption, nepotism, regionalism, segregation and war.
“Africans by nature are not barbaric nor selfish – trace our roots and you will definitely agree with me. If you are doubting this, acquaint yourself with the 1600s when Caucasians came to Africa and we offered hospitality to our conquerors despite brutality on their part.”
He noted that although no culture was static, Africans should guard against borrowing foreign cultural elements, which were aimed at making them permanent slaves of other nations.
“We must be proud of our identity. Mind you a nation which negates her cultural heritage is doomed.”
Sharing the same sentiments, President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) Collin Keya urged fellow students to preserve their cultures and embrace the beauty of African culture, as culture is the foundation that defines their future.