IN the tradition of Ovawambo and many other African traditions, ululation – as opposed to howling – is an expression of joy and celebration.
It is mostly common at joyous occasions such as weddings, the welcoming of newborn twins and other joyous festivals.
That was perhaps for this reason that many people appeared bewildered by the spontaneous ululating at the Onamungundo palace during the mourning period for late King Immanuel Kauluma Elifas.
People were even clapping hands, what is considered a taboo at events related to bereavement.
Informante approached elderly Lukas Amutenya, a resident of the Oluno suburb of Ondangwa, seeking an explanation of this “strange” phenomenon.
“Listening attentively one notices a slight difference. The celebratory ululation in weddings for example is pitched and protracted, while the mournful ululation is short and dull,” he said.
This was confirmed by George Nelulu, the Chairperson of the Oukwanayma Traditional Authority.
“When a king or queen or any other member of the royal clan dies, mourners ululate. That is our tradition,” he said.