NAMIBIANS have made great strides in reviving and revitalizing their respective cultures, parts of which were considered “pagan” or “outdated” and were discouraged or abandoned altogether before Independence.
However, since Independence in March 1990, Namibia has experienced a cultural revival that restored traditional norms and practices previously relegated to obscurity.
Those are the views of Senior Traditional Councilor Nathanael Ndikwetepo of the Ombadja Traditional Authority in the Omusati Region.
Speaking in a recent interview with Informanté, Ndikwetepo singled out the ritual initiation of girls (olufuko) as one example of the cultural practices which were considered taboo, but whose dignity was restored after independence.
Olufuko is a traditional practice of Ovawambo where girls are prepared for womanhood.
“Before independence,” said Ndikwetepo, “girls who dared to undergo this ritual initiation were immediately stigmatized and shunned by their peers and excommunicated by the church. However, the ritual is, once again, an integral part of our culture.”
In fact, the revived olufuko is considered so important that the Outapi town council has since 2012 hosted the annual Olufuko Cultural Festival, a very popular event that had to be taken off the calendar this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ndikwetepo also spoke about the revival of traditional dresses. “Whenever there is a feast or any other kind of public gathering, we see people – old and young – proudly wearing their traditional dresses. This is a new trend… a welcome trend indeed,” he said.
He noted that the young generation is interested in cultural activities and traditional norms thanks to the enthusiasm of the elders who teach and motivate the young ones.
However, he pointed out a worrying trend, an increasing number of young people who have no respect for elders due to a materialistic mentality.
Many young people of today lack respect for elders because they have money. They see themselves as self-sufficient, therefore, they disrespect their parents who are comparatively poor. And the parents do not correct their children where they are wrong. They fear offending them, thereby losing material and monetary benefits,” said Ndikwetepo.
“All is not lost. We can still rectify the situation by talking to our kids in a way that is polite but firm,” he said.
On the current coronavirus pandemic Ndikwetepo expressed satisfaction on how prevention measures are being adhered to by the community members.
He said that the wearing of face masks and hands sanitizing are nearly 100 percent, but social distancing leaves a lot to be desired.
Ndikwetepo was a primary school teacher from 1987 to 1989 but joined the lands ministry in 1990; resigned in 2006 to go into full time construction business.
In 2017 he was installed as a senior traditional councillor, heading one of the four districts of the Ombadja Traditional Authority.