Chief Herman Ndilimani Iipumbu has called on Namibians to make beverages from Omagongo (marula juice) and other marula products commercially.
“In this country we consume wine imported from France and other foreign countries, and we think whenever we drink those imported wines it is quite classy.
“But we can also add value to our own omagongo and commercialise it locally and internationally. This is our heritage, we need to take pride in it, and upgrade from where our forefathers left off,” Iipumbu said.
The chief made the comments when speaking at the Omagongo Cultural Festival at his residence in Onamega village in Omusati Region.
He went on to say that while omagongo is one of Namibia’ popular locally made beverages, it remains inferior to imported drinks consumed in the country.
The Omagongo Festival aims to celebrate the Namibian marula beverage extracted from marula fruit.
Two years ago, UNESCO included the Omagongo Festival in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritages. According to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the intangible cultural heritage – or living heritage – is the mainspring of humanity and its maintenance a guarantee for continuing creativity.
The hosting of the festival rotates among the traditional authorities in the northern regions.
“As Namibians we are proud to see that our heritage and cultures receive recognition around the globe,” President Hage Geingob said in his remarks at the festival.
“I hope this recognition of the Omagongo Festival as a mainspring for humanity will inspire the organisers of this event to continue to develop and improve upon it,” Geingob added.
Namibia’s Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma, who is also the initiator of the Omagongo Festival, explained that the Omagongo festival represents an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalisation.
Nujoma noted that an understanding of the cultural heritage of different communities helped with intercultural dialogue and encouraged mutual respect for other people’s way of life.
“Indeed, Omagongo Annual Festival has been inscribed on the representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during the tenth session of Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of intangible Cultural Heritage that was held in Windhoek in 2015,” Nujoma said.
Iipumbu maintained that apart from the alcoholic marula juice (omagongo), marula fruit could be used in the production of a variety of products such as marula oil, marula non-alcoholic juice and other products that traditionally among others fed and protected Aawambo people against mosquito bites.
Socially omagongo also brought Aawambo people together, in celebration of this seasonal beverage.
Iipumbu hosted the high profile event attended by a number of members of parliament, business personalities, traditional leaders from all over the country as well as community members and representatives of various ethnic groups countrywide.