Events zero in on Otji-culture

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Jeremiah Ndjoze

Windhoek-Enthusiasts of activities within the Ovaherero cultural sphere will be spoiled for choice this month when two events – both centred on the promotion of the culture of the Ovaherero people – coincidentally happen on the same day, albeit in different towns.

While the Ovaherero Cultural Festival, an initiative of the Ovaherero Cultural Youth League (OCYL), is slated for April 27- 28 at Okakarara, it has emerged that the Otjikaiva Festival is set for the same day in Windhoek. The Otjikaiva festival will be organised and hosted by a consortium comprising a charity organisation titled Ozongama Zomuara, initiated by late Meriam Mbapeua Rukoro, wife of the Paramount Chief of Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA), Vekuii Rukoro, together with Komba Trust, in partnership with an event management company BAYOCLE, supported by YK Enterprises as the marketing partner.

However, despite visible similarities in some of the proposed activities at the two events, the organisers of both events are adamant that all is well. Venee Korumbo, one of the organisers of the Ovaherero Cultural Festival confirms knowledge of the coinciding dates for both events, maintaining that this may have occurred due to a lack of coordination between the parties.

“People organising both events did so separately and the corresponding dates were picked at a later stage. We informed the OTA and it gave the green light to both events,” Korumbo says.

She, however, confirms that there are similarities in the type of activities that will be on display.
While refusing to dwell on the matter, Ozongama Zomuara’s Mavis Tjombonde corroborates Korumbo’s remarks: “I’d rather comment on that specific matter because I wasn’t involved at that level. But my understanding is that a committee was established that deliberated on that issue and in the end, both events were endorsed by the OTA for the same day,” Tjombonde says.

The Otjikaiva Festival, according to Tjombonde, is a celebration of the rich Ovaherero cultural and traditional practices, customs and foodstuffs, primarily highlighting the legendary Ovaherero dress. Otjikaiva refers to the uniquely styled head garb worn with the traditional dress. One of the objectives of the festival, she adds, is the preservation of the Ovaherero people’s culture and tradition.

Tjombonde reveals that the festival, among other activities, will offer stalls to entrepreneurial folks who have traditional items to sell, such as otjize , ozondao, and omahoro. Also on sale will be Ovaherero traditional dresses.

The Otjikaiva Festival will also feature a competition on the tying of the Otjikaiva as well as teachings on traditional fundamentals, such as the traditional marriage process and games such as onjune, wela wela.
The festival will take place at the Habitat Centre in Katutura and revellers, especially women, are urged to proudly flaunt their best traditional dresses, accompanied by the elegant garb while men will equally dress up in their hats called “opanesa” to complement the women.

“However, women who do not have traditional dresses or who cannot wear them for one or another reason, are also welcome and they can come as they are,” Tjombonde stresses.

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