‘Show respect when in dispute over traditional matters’

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Helvy Shaanika

Onamega

President Hage Geingob has asked Namibians dealing with disputes concerning traditional authorities to do so in an atmosphere of respect.

“Our chiefs, captains, hompas, gaub and aakwaniilwa are our greats, and if as young Africans we plan to pave the way for our own greatness, then we should pay respect to them.”

“Therefore I encourage all Namibians to deal with all disputes concerning traditional authorities in an atmosphere of respect. Let us be true to our cultures and traditions and follow the established age-old practices of resolving disagreements without resorting to the disrespectful practices of slandering our elders,” said Geingob at the annual Omagongo Festival at Onamega village of Uukwambi on Saturday.

Geingob’s speech was read on his behalf by the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa.

Geingob’s statement comes at a time when the Ondonga Traditional Authority is bogged down by squabbling, with a faction of suspended traditional headmen having asked, and failed, the courts to have King Immanuel Kauluma Elifas assessed if he is physically and mentally fit to remain king. They have also asked that Elifas’ wife, Sesilia, be removed from the homestead and Ondonga jurisdiction, accusing her of meddling in the traditional affairs of the king.

Geingob urged the nation to be true to its cultures and traditions. “In Africa our traditions, beliefs, customs and norms are all underpinned by the principle of respect. Most importantly, respect for our elders. There is an African proverb that says a man who pays respect to the great, paves the way for his own,” he said.

He maintained that African cultural values are based on the foundation of the past and present, which is a leading reason why elders must be respected.
Geingob also encouraged Namibians to adopt the habit of travelling to other regions to observe the cultural celebrations of other citizens.

Such habits, he said, would allow people to learn of their fellow Namibians’ cultural traditions and replace distrust with trust, intolerance with tolerance and hatred with love.

“It is important that we learn to practise unity in diversity. Unity and diversity, when observed in isolation, seem to be dichotomies, but when these two words are combined, an equilibrium is achieved which transcends beyond tribes and ethnicities, beyond villages and regions, morphing various people, with their unique cultural practices and norms, into one national cultural identity,” said the president.

He said the previous Bantustan policy of apartheid South Africa kept Namibians in the dark about other cultures beyond their regions and even sometimes beyond their villages. “This situation allowed prejudices and distrust to develop and take hold within the psyche of Namibians, leading to disunity,” he said.

“Today, in an independent and free Namibia which is promoting a new narrative, which espouses the principles of nation building, Namibians are finally beginning to learn more about all the cultural traditions which characterize the colourful diversity of our Namibian House,” he said.

“Culture and heritage are integral national building components which instil a sense of purpose and identity within people and nations. When celebrated within the context of unity in diversity, culture and diversity become enablers for social and economic progress,” said Geingob.

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