Omagongo festival a catalyst for unity

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Nuusita Ashipala

ONALUSHWA – Namibians are advised to optimise cultural activities such as the recent Omagongo Cultural Festival to unite and impart positive behavioural norms and values to the youth.

Various speakers at the UNESCO-listed Omagongo that ended over the weekend said the festival is an important tool in accelerating development through tourism.

The event – hosted annually on a rotational basis by the traditional authorities of Ondonga, Uukwaluudhi, Uukwambi, Ongandjera, Oukwanyama, Uukolonkadhi, Ombalantu and Ombadja – was also used as a platform for organisers to denounce atrocities perpetrated against women and children.

Weighing into domestic violence, Namibia’s Founding President Sam Nujoma, who is patron of the festival, warned men against neglecting their families, mainly due to alcohol abuse.

He said some men spend prolonged hours at cuca shops instead of spending their time imparting cultural values and norms to younger generations.

As a result, Nujoma said, many young people have resorted to social media as there is a lack of parental cultural guidance at home.

“It is a pity that nowadays parents utilise their time drinking alcohol at the cuca shops, only to return home when the children and mothers are already sleeping,” he said.

The Omagongo festival was on Saturday celebrated at the Uukwaluudhi palace at Onalushwa village, near Tsandi.
The event was attended by hordes of people, including representatives of various traditional authorities beyond the four northern regions, as well as international visitors.

Speaking at the occasion, secretary of Ondonga Traditional Authority Nepando Amupanda encouraged young people to desist from insulting elders as this defies African culture.

Amupanda, a former bodyguard of Nujoma, also implored men against abuse and killing of women.
Nujoma said cultural heritage should not end with exhibitions at the museums, but should be extended into the public domain as it is an important cultural sector in driving global industrialisation development.

UNESCO representative in Namibia Jean Pierre Ilboudo has pledged that his office will support and maximise the social and economic value intangible cultural heritages could potentially bring about.

The same sentiments were shared by the Deputy Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Anna Nghipondoka who challenged entrepreneurs to add value to Omagongo.

The festival brings communities together to quench on the marula brew drawn from the omagongo fruit of the marula tree, which is found in rural setups of Namibia, mainly the northern areas.

Next year’s Omagongo festival will be hosted by the Ongandjera Traditional Authority.
Apart from the Uukwaluudhi first couple, the event was also attended by former President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, chairperson of the National Council Magreth Mensah-Williams as well as ministers, deputy ministers and members of parliament.

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