Founding President and patron of the Olufuko Annual Cultural Festival, Sam Nujoma has emphasised the importance of celebrating Namibian culture ‘in the face of social and cultural imperialism.’
Nujoma made these remarks during the official opening of the ninth edition of the festival at Outapi on Tuesday. He stressed that culture should be used as a significant means to dismantle the lasting effects of centuries of colonialism in Africa.
He explained that there is a misconception about Olufuko, as many believe it is a platform used to encourage child marriage.
“Let me once again make it categorically clear that initiation is not marriage, but the rite of passage for the girls from childhood to adulthood,” stressed Nujoma.
He said the teachings and rituals are part of the Oshiwambo culture, providing an occasion to address present-day societal concerns that impact them, such as teenage pregnancy.
Nujoma further added that religion should not be at the exclusion of African values.
“The two can co-exist and there can be a common ground of mutual understanding as it is granted by the Namibian Constitution for every citizen to observe, practice and exercise his or her religion and culture,” he stressed.
He further added that the University of Namibia’s Multidisciplinary Research Centre conducted a study on Olufuko, both in ancient times and the present day.
The study concluded that Europeans used severe censorship and bans on African cultural practices, including Olufuko, as a method to exert power and control over the African people.
Minister of Urban and Rural Development Erastus Uutoni echoed Nujoma’s sentiments, saying the initiation practice is not counterintuitive in any way, but on the contrary fosters cultural preservation.
Olufuko is a traditional initiation ceremony for girls from childhood to adulthood. The festival features performances by various artists and cultural groups, as well as teachings and rituals that help the girls to transition into adulthood.
This year’s event attracted 33 initiates. It ends Friday.
Source: The Namibian Press Agency