Placido Hilukilwa and Marthina Mutanga
THE coronavirus is shattering lifestyles and changing traditional ways of doing things.
These changes, however, have to be accepted as a “small price to pay” to save the lives of people, said senior traditional councillor Efraim Weyulu, the head of the Eenhana District of the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority.
Weyulu said an immediate change of lifestyle is needed due to the global outbreak of COVID-19, which can be in how communities gather, greet each other, share meals or practice their customs.
“President Hage Geingob’s announcement is clear. We, the traditional leaders, have to play our part in sensitising the people on how to prevent the spread of the deadly virus,” he said.
Among the traditional lifestyles that need to change immediately, Weyulu listed the communal use of traditional chalices (omaholo) for marula wine and the drinking of the moderately alcoholic homebrew (omalodu), as well as the consumption of otombo at shebeens sharing the same cup.
He said that traditional leaders are already transmitting the message to the residents of their respective villages.
“This includes sensitising women and girls who squeeze the marula fruits to produce omagongo using their bare hands. They need to observe personal hygiene at all times,” he said.
Weyulu also noted that the preventive measures that are being implemented will inadvertently cause collateral damage to the rural economy because people are now reluctant to buy and consume certain products.
“This virus is something totally different from anything we have ever seen before and our people must really work together and implement the necessary preventive measures,” he said.
Ovaherero Paramout Chief, Vekuii Rukoro, said general caution must be exercised regarding especially traditional cultural gatherings. If possible, weddings should be postponed for at least 3 to 4 months until the coast is clear.
Rukoro gave an example of the spraying of Holy Water during funerals that is practised by mostly the Ovaherero people.
“Let us raise awareness about general hygiene to avert a second genocide against our people,” noted Rukoro.