New Era journalist Nuusita Ashipala interviewed Nashilongo Ananias – the Chairperson of the Olufuko Committee looking at various aspects of this popular event
NE: In layman’s language, what is Olufuko initiation?
NA: “Olufuko is a preparation of girls from childhood to adulthood through Olufuko initiation, whereby girls are toughened and trained on how to take care of themselves.”
NE: How have you overcome or explained to critics of Olufuko who persist this ceremony is anti-Christian? And are these perceptions still prevailing?
NA: “It should be clear that Olufuko is not anti-Christian and will not be anti-Christian because those who get initiated are Christians. I think it is only a misunderstanding especially from the ELCIN church. The accusations against Olufuko are baseless because Olufuko is just a cultural practice of our ancestors.”
NE: How far is the council with the planned construction of the Olufuko centre? When is the centre envisaged for completion?
NA: “The Master Plan and the architectural drawing for Olufuko are done. Looking at the magnitude of the investment needed, the private partners need to come on board to invest on the construction of the centre together with the town council.”
NE: Why should parents be encouraged to bring their girls to Olufuko? What lessons could they learn from Olufuko?
NA: “Parents need to encourage their girls to participate in Olufuko because they learn not only how to behave in society as young girls but they also learn about the Ovawambo cultural practices that they can pass onto the next generations, for example the importance of culture and the Olufuko initiation and traditional dances as well as the traditional attire. They also learn to respect their Christian beliefs while at the same time preserving and practicing their culture. It is important to celebrate and preserve our cultural heritage just as it is done in other parts of the world.”
NE: Any plans to also incorporate the young boys into Olufuko?
NA: The plans to incorporate the boys are there, because even now we always have nurses from the Ministry of Health and Social Services doing the circumcision and also give awareness about it in Olufuko Centre. The plan to construct a clinic is in place as the practice cannot be done in open spaces and that is the male initiation.”
NE: “What different elements can visitors expect from this year’s Olufuko?
NA: “This year visitors will expect to see the hosting of the Miss Heritage during Olufuko Festival and also will have the best ever traditional fashion show, while we continue to educate our young generation about our traditional, cultural norms, science and arts.”
NE: Yet again, Olufuko is hosting its gala dinner the same time as the Ongwediva Trade Fair, what is the trick?
NA: “It should be categorically clear that Olufuko Festival is not in a competition with Ongwediva but to us we see Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair and Olufuko Festival complementing each other in their events. We are sincerely inviting all business people in Omusati Region and outside our Region to join us on the 29th July 2017 during the gala dinner as well as during the festival as from the 25th August – 05th September 2017. On the 1st September 2017, our patron His Excellency Dr Sam Nujoma, the father of the Namibian Nation will officially open the Olufuko Annual Festival for 2017 with the appearance by Maria Nepembe the face of Olufuko 2017 at the Olufuko Center.”
Caption (CEO – Outapi): Nashilongo Ananias the CEO of Outapi who also doubles as the Chairperson of the Olufuko Committee