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Anuwa?

By M'kwanailya wa Mweuta
The Ovaherero, amongst Namibian communities, have always been known to be a proud people. Their love and passion for their culture and tradition is just amazing.

Despite the soaring temperatures on any hot savannah day, Ovaherero women, would be found wearing their long dresses from the Victorian era and the otjikeiva. Tell them about the heat and they would defend this practice to death. I have never understood, why. But then again they are a proud people.

Their love for tradition invokes a sense of belonging and oneness in this community, I am told. For this reason every year, you would find every Omuherero trading his western garb for the Red and black dress for women and the khaki attire for men, in keeping with an old age tradition of remembering fallen heroes at Okahandja, sacred place for this community.

I was dumbfounded, therefore, that the old broken disunity record was being played at this sacred place, so much so that two groups are not seeing eye to eye about how they should honour their fallen heroes (I am not using the gender sensitive heroes and heroines because there is not a single woman buried on the hallowed burial place at Okahandja). I would venture to say that the only woman Ovaherero men honour is Kakurukaze Mungunda who happens to be one of the heroes honoured at the Heroes Acre.

The bone of contention is the placement of the holy fire, whether it should face the east or the west. To other communities this is baffling but to the Ovaherero, every detail matters.

NOgals, where to lit the fire? Having heard so many theories on the implication of the Ovaherero disunity including the fact that the current drought might range on until unity is reached, I approach my good friend Veii to shed more light on the rumour. He confirms that the disunity should not be taken lightly. It is believed that when one does not obey the strict customary rituals, the forefathers who are worshiped as part of the holy fire, would bring wrath to the land. Anuwa it was predicted by one reputable elder that last year's court cases on the fire issue could lead to the forefathers visit the land as a starter with either drought, famine and disease in that order.

Veii who was in Okahandja this past weekend reckons that the only way to resolve this impasse is the courts. He says it is the only way to resolve this stand-off. I asked him if the judges who sit on these cases are well versed with what the forefathers want. What if the decision is fair in the eyes of the judge but again annoyed the forefathers?

Veii had no answer. So, there you have it Namibians do something to encourage the Ovaherero Unity. Pastors should initiate national Ovaherero Unity prayer days while musicians should compose songs to that effect too. If we don't resolve the holy fire squabble any time soon, I do not want to imagine the next step seeing that our forbearers have already started withholding the rain. In the meantime, I have started pleading with my brothers and sisters to see eye to eye and let go of the pride once and for all!





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