President Hage Geingob says culture is not only about dancing and engaging in lively performances but involves different aspects of cultural norms and values that our forefathers followed.
He made the remarks when addressing various cultural groups and artists who flocked to Katima Mulilo to partake in this year’s annual National Arts and Culture Festival, hosted by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture.
Officiating at the opening of the festival on Wednesday, Geingob emphasised culture has today lost value in many societies as many people, particularly the young, think culture is all about dancing.
“We think culture is just dancing –dancing two steps forward, a step backward, that is what we think culture is. But culture involves many other things like literature, painting, writing poetry, and many other things that are cultural, but we thought it is just dancing; there are many aspects of culture that are not applied at the moment,” stressed Geingob.
However, he said cultural differences should not separate Namibian people, but they should rather use cultural diversity to unite one another, and fight social evils of racism and tribalism.
“There is nothing wrong to belong to a tribe or ethnic group, but what is wrong is when we add the ‘ism’, then it becomes tribalism. What is tribalism? This is when you think only your people are tribe-worthy. Same with my security people – I should only be guarded by my tribesmen because they are the only ones I can trust. When we think like that we are practising tribalism, which we must fight with all the means at our disposal,” emphasized the president.
The 21st annual National Arts and Cultural Festival which is being held under the theme ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage: Keeping Culture Alive’, has attracted over 1 500 exhibitors and artists from the country’s fourteen regions to showcase Namibia’s rich diverse culture.
Speaking at the same event the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said Namibia shares cultural expressions which have been passed on from one generation to another.
“The importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next,” she said.
She added: “In order for tangible culture to be alive, it must remain relevant to a culture and be regularly practised and learned from communities and between generations – it is for that reason that the annual cultural festival is of paramount importance.”