Aawambo celebrate Omagongo Festival

29 April 2019 | Cultural

In the past, crimes committed during omagongo season in the north were not prosecuted because all traditional courts were in recesses.

This was said by speakers at the 2019 Omagongo Festival on Saturday.

Many Aawambo people gathered at the Ongandjera palace at Uukwandongo village in the Omusati Region to celebrate the event.

Omagongo season runs from mid-February until the end of March and copious amounts of fermented marula juice are consumed during this period.

At Saturday's event, the chairperson of the Ongandjera Traditional Authority, Johannes Kandombo, explained the customs to the younger generations.



Traditionally, tribal authorities in northern Namibia put all their activities on hold and all inhabitants were restricted from carrying weapons, he said.

Kandombo said the Omagongo Festival was associated with people eating enough and healthy food.

“During omagongo season the carrying of weapons of any kind is strictly prohibited. Fighting is also prohibited and nothing that happened during that season could be prosecuted.

“If someone promises you anything, make sure you get it that day, otherwise that person will not be held liable to fulfil such a promise,” said Kandombo.

“Traditionally, the women's role was only to prepare the omagongo, but not to consume it. Men were urged to drink responsibly while holding discussions and eating goat meat.”

Vice-president Nangolo Mbumba told festival-goers that the government had set aside N$480 million for drought relief.

“The country is faced with a severe drought affecting people and animals. The government has put aside N$480 million for drought relief food, for both people and animals, water management and the transportation of this aid to drought-stricken communities.

“These funds will be facilitated by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and her deputy, Netumbo Nandi-Ndeitwah,” announced Mbumba.

Founding President Sam Nujoma, who is the patron of the festival, urged elders to pass this rich cultural heritage on to the next generations.

He said through the festival, young children must be taught about the values of natural resources.

“Cultural heritage is a vital part of the identity of who we are, where we came from and where we intend to go, not only as traditional authorities, but the Namibian nation as a whole.

“Our young children must know the whole process starting with how to care for the marula trees and the gathering and processing of the fruits to produce omagongo and other related products,” said Nujoma.

“Our cultural values and norms carry our African identity and that is why I would like to urge our older generation to ensure we pass on what we know to the next generation.”

The Ombalantu Traditional Authority will host the festival next year.

ILENI NANDJATO

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