Different people, languages, norms and ways of doing things, but all unmistakeably Namibian, were in action at the just-ended Annual National Culture Festival (ANCF).
Gracing the event at Keetmanshoop last Wednesday was Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who said celebrating cultural diversity can help create a sense of unity among different cultural groups and help with nation building.
She explained that the festival is an organised platform that brings together the entire nation to express itself and by doing so collectively, the nation enhances its shared goal of unity.
“Unity serves as a pillar and bridge for the execution of all developmental agendas for the communities, society and the nation,” she stated.
She emphasised the importance of the event, saying that such events make people grow to appreciate and respect each other, as they discover their commonalities, which allows for integration, a prerequisite for the maintenance of peace and stability.
Going down memory lane, she said during the colonial apartheid era, culture was effectively misused as a way to divide Namibia’s people and thus people must strive to use culture in a positive way to build the nation: “We must therefore spare no effort in building bridges and using culture as a pillar of strength to unite our people.”
She further said, as a country with diverse cultures, unity remains and will ever be the central feature of nation building. Thus there is a need to enhance our understanding of each other. She added that the festival must become a hallmark for unity in diversity.
Himarwa called on the participants to turn cultural treasures into income generating commodities that can significantly improve the Namibian economy and contribute to nation building.
Helon Muhaindjumba, acting senior culture officer in the Hardap Region, explained to New Era that the annual event is aimed at celebrating and promoting Namibia’s diverse cultures.
He said this year’s theme – ‘Live together, accept each other, that’s our culture’ – is a reflection of today’s Namibia where people from different cultural backgrounds are living together and have accepted each other.
“We have accepted each other as one after Independence, that’s what makes Namibia a very peaceful country and that’s our culture” he said, further emphasising that culture is still highly relevant in modern Namibia, calling it ‘our backbone’, which identifies us and makes us unique.
The various groups displayed their traditional dances, food, medicine and other traditional ways. The participants will each receive a token of appreciation in a form of a certificate and a participation fee, which could not be revealed to the reporter. All in all about 1 300 of Namibia’s best traditional performers from 90 traditional groups took part in the festival that ended over the weekend.