The Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa says it is essential to research cultural prehistoric events to find possible solutions to addressing challenges such as poverty, drought and land distribution which presently engulf the country.
“What does culture say about all these issues? How did our forefathers deal with problems of this nature?” the minister wanted to know.
She made the remarks at the official opening of the fourth Totem Expo in Oshakati on Saturday.
Celebrated under the theme “Strengthening ties through culture”, the expo attracts the masses. Shaningwa said the theme speaks volumes about building a united nation.
Shaningwa added that platforms such as the Totem Expo are useful for celebrating cultural diversity and promoting national unity and continental and global solidarity.
“People should not see each other in tribal perspectives, but rather in the similarities of totems, creating a wider unity base while narrowing ethnic differences,” said Shaningwa.
Imploring the youth to safeguard culture, Shaningwa said the Totem Expo should be used as a platform to create awareness and to understand the African identity through the various totems.
In addition, the minister called upon scholars to direct their studies to totems and expand their knowledge and understanding through research.
“This should be complemented by the use of technological instruments available which contain cultural contents. We need to scientifically research, document, preserve and pass on knowledge on totems, culture and national identity,” said Shaningwa.
Shaningwa’s call was cemented by the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Samuel Ankama, who said that comprehensive research should be undertaken to create cohesion between different cultural practices and social set-ups.
“There are many questions that need to be answered on how to create a common understanding of true Namibian culture and its meaning,” said Ankama
Equally, Shaningwa called upon elders to orientate, teach and sensitize the young generation through totems so that cultural heritage is passed on to the next generation.
“Let us not deprive our children of their cultural heritage.”