Thousands of people from all walks of life gathered on Sunday at Chinchimane about 65 kilometres southwest of Katima Mulilo to celebrate the annual Lusata Cultural Festival hosted by Chief George Simasiku Mamili VII of the Mafwe.
Lusata Festival draws its name from an ivory encrusted stick, ‘the royal mace,’ which symbolises the chief’s strong leadership qualities and his ability to unify all his subjects.
Some guests came from as far as Botswana and Zambia. Ovambanderu Chief Klaus Nguvauva also attended.
In his annual address Chief Mamilili called on his followers to take pride in their identity, regardless of where they find themselves. He also said the Mafwe people have the responsibility to contribute to national unity. “Apply your culture of respect towards other fellow citizens. Be patient, even with those who go round confusing our patience for a sign of weakness. They do such things for they are not properly cultured,” he said.
Mamili also thanked the Namibian government for developmetal initiatives, such as constructing roads, supplying electricity, providing potable water and expanding health services in targeted areas: “These services keep improving lives of rural people in the areas of education, health, communication and trade. We pledge to support all initiatives and still urge government to cover places, where such services have not yet reached,”
Minister of Education arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who was the keynote speaker at the festival, reminded those in attendance that the nation at large faces the danger of cultures going extinct, if people do not take seriously the need to preserve their culture: “Our culture is important for the future of our children and to our nation, because culture ensures a history, a past, present and certainly a future.”
Himarwa also stressed that although some are of the opinion that indigenous cultures are outdated and should be completely forgotten, many people are living examples of the good that their culture and traditions did for them.
“Our cultures helped us to develop and mould our attitudes and characters to be productive, useful, purposeful and progressive citizens. It is thus imperative that our children are taught the importance of upholding cultural norms and values,” she said.
Himarwa’s sentiments where shared by Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu, who stated that because of the idea that culture and traditions should be done away with, currently the country and the Zambezi Region suffers from “serious moral decay and some bad behaviour, which should be put to shame.”