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Omagongo festival hangs in balance due to COVID-19

Omagongo festival hangs in balance due to COVID-19

Placido Hilukilwa

THE preparations for the much-anticipated annual Omagongo Cultural Festival, to be hosted this year by the Ombalantu Traditional Authority in the Omusati Region, were put on hold due to the proclamation of the State of Emergency following the global outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.


The two gala dinners, planned to raise the necessary funds for the annual event, were subsequently cancelled.


The first fundraiser was to take place in Windhoek on 4 April and the second was slotted to take place at Outapi on 20 April, but both were cancelled due to the countrywide lockdown that imposed social distancing and prohibits gatherings.


According to the spokesperson of the preparation committee, Angula Kanelombe, there is still hope that the situation will return to normal and the event will take place at a later stage.


“It is no longer possible to host the event in May as initially planned. It can take place in June or July depending on how long the current state of emergency lasts,” he said.


Omagongo Cultural Festival Ombalantu Traditional Authority
Pictured: A woman squeezing the marula fruits to produce the moderately alcoholic marula wine. Photo: Archive


He noted that the organisers of the event have already collected sufficient marula wine, a product that can only be safely stored for a limited period.


Kanelombe further said that after August, the marula wine that is currently being stored for the Omagongo Festival, may no longer be fit for human consumption.


Therefore, if the state of emergency lasts beyond July, the organisers will have no option but to postpone the event until next year.


The annual Omagongo Cultural Festival is hosted on a rotational basis by the eight traditional authorities of Ovawambo – Ondonga, Uukwambi, Ongandjera, Uukwaluudhi, Uukolonkadhi, Ombalantu, Ombadja and Oukwanyama.


Even though the festival was initially exclusively an Aawambo event, it is now a national event and is even recognised by UNESCO as an intangible heritage of humanity.


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