Namibians must be proud of their culture, promote it, protect it and unify local norms and traditions values into nationhood.
The patron of the annual Omagongo Cultural Festival and Founding Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr. Sam Nujoma, appealed to the Namibian media to assist Namibian communities in this regard.
In an earlier meeting between Dr. Nujoma and the head of the rapidly expanding Informanté Radio, TV and digital platforms like Facebook with close to 550 000 followers providing free access to news and information, Chris Jacobie, the Father of the Namibian Nation encouraged Namibians to protect and improve the natural environment as it belongs to all Namibians.
Dr. Nujoma especially encouraged the planting of indigenous trees and the manufacture of natural products along traditional processes.
That was the theme and slogan of the Omagongo Cultural Festival 2019 hosted by the Ongandjera Traditional Authority in the Omusati Region recently.
The festival is unique in many ways.
Unlike celebrations and commemorations of other important historic events, omagongo festival celebrates the fruit of the wild marula tree.
The fermented marula juice – known as omagongo/omaongo in the Oshiwambo vernacular – is considered an exceptional commodity and its consumption is regulated by proper traditional norms.
In fact it is the only commodity honoured with an annual festival due to the exceptional value attached to it.
A period of joy is declared as soon as the harvesting of the marula fruits commences around February till April.
During this period, the carrying of any weapon or sharp objects is strictly prohibited and traditional courts go on recession.
Women collect the fruits and squeeze them using the sharp point of cattle horn. The juice is stored in special containers and allowed to ferment, what takes between two and four days before it is ready for consumption.
The nutshells are placed in containers of water to produce sweet juice (oshinwa) which is normally consumed by women and children.
While squeezing the fruits under the big marula trees, older women transmit to younger women and girls the traditional norms of their community and reveal to them the “ingredients” of a happy marriage.
Although produced by women, traditionally only men were allowed to consume the fermented marula juice.
Omagongo is consumed in a relaxed and serene mood, allowing men to share information on current events and refresh their minds on traditional norms and customs.
Reverend Dr. Eliakim Shaanika, who delivered a paper on the history of the Ongandjera tribe and the Omagongo festival, said that the fermented marula juice is to be consumed only in moderation because over-indulgence can lead to embarrassing situations.
“You might end up promising to give someone an elephant which you do not possess,” he said.
The omagongo festival takes place annually and is hosted by the eight traditional authorities of the Aawambo ethnic group on a rotational basis.
It is a national event and is recognized internationally as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
The festival brings people together to socialize and to enjoy omagongo. It is a platform for meeting old friends, making new alliances and reconciling with old foes.
Feast-goers are entertained by traditional dancers and the event serves as platform to exchange ideas and to transmit customary norms and traditions to the younger generation.