The Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa says the hosting of Olufuko is not a satanic practice, as perceived by some, but a platform to revive and promote culture as well as boost the local economy.
Shaningwa, who when she was the governor of Omusati region played an intergral role in the establishment of Olufuko, said people should resist being brainwashed to believe their cultural norms and traditional practices are satanic.
“Olufuko tradition, culture is here to stay. We should under no circumstances be told our cultural practices are satanic,” said Shaningwa at the fifth Olufuko festival at Outapi on Saturday.
She pleaded that Olufuko not be used as a tool to divide but instead be viewed as a celebration to unite people.
She added that there is nothing sinister about the girls’ initiation ceremony, stressing that they are required to return to school after the initiation.
The event was attended by traditional authorities from Omusati region, Ohangwena region as well as Otjikaoko Traditional Authority and Vita Thom Royal House from the Kunene region.
Saturday’s opening was preceded by a parade of the participating traditional authorities as well as the lighting of a fire by the Ongandjera Traditional Authority.
The minister cautioned school principals and teachers to ensure full integration of the girls after the initiation.
Complementing the minister, Chief of Ombalantu Traditional Authority Oswin Mukulu advised the girls against early marriages.
Mukulu said getting married should be a personal choice once the girls have completed school.
Shaningwa also denounced individuals and traditional authorities who use culture and traditions to promote tribalism.
Shaningwa was responding to tribalistic comments made by Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro in the media last week.
She said such mischievous, tribalistic and disrespectful utterances directed at national leaders are detrimental to nation-building and progressive development.
“Some traditional leaders want to use culture and traditions to promote tribalism. Some are even calling themselves ‘commander in chief’. As far as we know there is only one commander in chief in this country and that is His Excellency Dr Hage Geingob,” said Shaningwa.
Also speaking at the event, Founding President Sam Nujoma, who is the patron of Olufuko, emphasised that one of the overall objectives of Olufuko is to grow the local economy and create jobs.
He said the idea is in line with government’s overreaching aim to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty in order to achieve objectives as set out in the National Development Plan (NDP 4) and Vision 2030.
Nujoma’s speech was read on his behalf by the Chief of Uukwambi Traditional Authority Herman Ndilimani Iipumbu.
This year’s Olufuko attracted 89 girls for initiation, a drop from 105 initiated last year.
This year festival also attracted 305 exhibitors, an increase from last year’s 230.