First ever Otji festival proves a hit

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Kae Maṱunḓu-Tjiparuro

The first ever Otjiherero culture festival took place last Saturday in Okakarara proving a hit with the community demanding more of it still this year rather thanb only once a year as the organisers have envisaged.

More than 500 members of the community from Okakarara and surroundings and beyond witnessed the inaugural edition at the Okakarara Trade Fair Centre. “This was beyond our expectation and a great success. This is an indication that the community has great interest in culture. Thought it would only be once a year but from the interest and demand it seems we would have to have it two or three times this year,” says Uerihorora Veseeveṱe, vice secretary general of the Ovaherero Cultural Youth League (OCYL) that came up with the idea. OCYL initially intended with the festival to make the youth aware of the Otjiherero culture so that they could in the future preserve it. But it turned out those very much in need of such a culturalisation is not only the youth but even old people who from the interactive session came out are equally not conversant with the finer points of the cultural of various cultural aspects of their culture.

The opening of the event was preceded by a festival procession in the streets of Okakara to sensitise the residents of the town, which seems to have worked given the attendance on the day. The festival comprised of various aspects of the Otjiherero culture where experts explained their essence followed by interactive questions on these cultural aspects. It was during such interaction that it became apparent that different people, both young and old, have different understanding of different cultural aspects of the Otjiherero culture. The festival comprised of the cultural importance of a sheep, especially the fact that it is not slaughtered behind the homestead line any other slaughter animals. As well as the application of its meet. Among others the fact that raw meat from a slaughtered sheep must not be carried away but that one can only carry cooked it once cooked. Also meat from a sheep slaughtered for the Ombwena ceremony, where a woman who has delivered is fed with sauce from this meat, is not eaten by men. Also most important, which has been unknown to many is that the Ombwena sheep does not come from outside the home or homestead of the delivering woman, or her boyfriend, but from within her own homestead.
Drilling parades, the different uses of horses traditionally like racing, trotting, etc also formed part of the festival with Mbonda Tjiposa leading the horse section in which the horse, Remember of Uatjitavi Maiuongara won this section. Other cultural activities included school choirs, with one of the songs of each choir expected to be a cultural song; battle cries and the importance of circumcision which was led by traditional circumcision surgeon, Rapanda Uarukuijani who put ten children under the knife on the day.

“Culture not dying as long as youth cooperate with the elders. For the youth not loose their culture, it is important to have something like this because it transpired that it may have been taken for granted as many would have assumed or thought to that they know their culture, many do not know and only learnt some of the finer points of any aspect of culture. Target youth for them to learn culture and preserve, but transpired that there’s a need to broaden it,” Bethel Veseevete, who ensured that the festival was a success it may have been in terms of organisation.

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