Kavango East Governor Dr Samuel Mbambo believes there is a need to foster cultural tolerance and says the University of Namibia (Unam) should pride itself in being not only a citadel of higher education, but also a centre for cultural diversity.
Mbambo made these remarks during the official opening of the Unam cultural festival at the Rundu campus over the past week. He said the fact that Unam accommodates students from all 14 regions of the country and numerous others from the SADC region, Africa and the wider world, makes it possible to host all cultures and a multi-cultural identity that values integration and assimilation.
The cultural festival was celebrated with the theme ‘Cultural Identity in a Global Village’ and Unam students displayed various types of traditional cuisine at their stalls and dressed in cultural attire as they danced to showcase their different cultures.
“Given the invasive global influences, we need to teach our youth to be resilient and only emulate the positive elements of the invading cultures and preserve the positive aspects of our own culture as we adapt to the changing environment in which we live,” Mbambo said. Our society has been invaded by ugly tendencies which, if not addressed, could have negative consequences for the youth and future generations, he said.
“These are: alcohol and drug abuse, violence, especially against children and women, the deterioration of youth behaviour, lack of respect for elders, the mushrooming of unAfrican attire and lifestyles in pursuance of what is fashionable to fit into the peer group and to adjust to the so-called modern culture, laziness and lack of vision,” he said.
“A university cannot function properly without tapping its rich and diverse membership of students and staff, who hail from different cultural backgrounds. To cement cultural integration and accelerate the process of assimilation, there is a need to foster cultural tolerance,” Mbambo said. “In that manner, we can affirm our various cultural identities within the broader global village and contribute to humanity,” he intoned.
In this regard Unam leadership can play a crucial role by encouraging its entire community to embrace one another’s cultures, through sharing, learning and exchange of positive cultural traditions, norms and values, he argued.
Furthermore, he said the hosting of cultural festivals should be used as a useful tool to enhance social transformation and meaningful change. He encouraged the management of Unam’s Rundu campus to continue to assist students and staff to promote cultural tolerance and integration and to strive for a positive global cultural identity.
He said it is befitting for Unam to train, shape and mould students to become fully fledged, mature, independent minded and responsible young adults who are ready to transform the world into a better place for all: “By helping our students and staff realise and understand their cultural heritage, we should also assist them to appreciate and reciprocate respect for other cultures.”
The four-day cultural festival ended on Saturday night with the popular kwiku inventor, Tate Buti, setting the Eddy Shikongo Memorial hall ablaze, as the students and nearby residents packed the hall, where Tate Buti performed alongside other local artists, such as TKB and many more.