Ya Nangoloh drags Olufuko 'strip show' to court

09 October 2019 | Justice

Namibia's government, former president Sam Nujoma and two traditional authorities are opposing a lawsuit attempting to ban the Olufuko cultural festival for its alleged degrading showcasing of young girls which is said to infringe on their dignity and human rights.

These are the arguments contained in a founding affidavit filed in July this year by Phil Ya Nangoloh, the executive director of NamRights, just a month before the start of the festival in August.

The human rights organisation states that the festival, revived in 2012, is in essence a “female sexual initiation ritual, a harmful traditional practice which had ceased in the country some 80 years ago”. Moreover, it charges that the festival, as pertains to girls younger than 18, is unlawful and unconstitutional and “should be outlawed”. In 2012 Ya Nangoloh issued a statement in which he said the festival was “discriminatory and degrading against girls”, while also incompatible with Namibian laws, including the constitution.

In October last year he accused the festival of being more like a strip show where young girls are put on display for men, promoting patriarchy and oppressing women.

Further, he claimed that the festival was contrary to Namibia's contemporary, civil, cultural, political and social customs and practices, and paraded poor, bare-breasted girls in public without their consent.

At the time, the government was warned that unless girls younger than 18 were barred from participating in the event, Namrights would take legal steps within three months.

In the July founding affidavit, the organisation asks that the court declare the festival a “violation of a whole range of human rights of girl children and young women.”

Namrights also asks that the court declare the festival a sexual initiation ritual of young girls that is inherently coercive, forcing young girls to be paraded before potential husbands. It claims that children as young as 12 are offered for “marriage, sexual intercourse and childbirth.”

Of the 19 respondents listed in the lawsuit, only the first four filed notices to oppose the action, including Sam Nujoma as the fourth respondent, the government of Namibia as the first, and the Ombalantu and Ombadja traditional authorities as the second and third respondents.

Nujoma is the festival's patron and officially opened the event in August this year.

Not so

The remaining respondents include the ombudsman, the Namibia Tourism Board, Women's Solidarity Namibia, Sister Namibia, the Legal Assistance Centre and Lifeline/Childline.

NamRights informed the court that the majority of respondents were only cited as interested parties and unless they opposed the application, no substantive costs or other relief would be sought against them.

The opposing parties filed an answering affidavit in August, in which they relied on Erastus Kautondokwa, a senior cultural officer in the education ministry, to state their initial case.

Kautondokwa, a member of the Ombalantu traditional community, states that he holds a master's degree in cultural anthropology, and that his thesis was based on the Olufuko cultural practices.

He argues on behalf of the respondents that based on his lifelong interest in these practices, all the girls that participate “do so willingly and with the consent and permission of their parents.”

Further, he claims that for the communities involved, the event is a “rite of passage for young girls aimed at teaching and empowering young girls with basic skills and responsibilities of womanhood.”

Kautondokwa also states that as a ministerial officer he has “never come across any complaint from any girl or parent” that they were in any way “exposed or subjected to any female sexual initiation as alleged.”

The affidavit further states that NamRights and ya Nangoloh have no right to institute the court proceedings, as they are neither directly nor indirectly affected by the alleged misconduct.

Moreover, Kautondokwa asserts that the alleged victims and their parents are free to institute civil or criminal actions to enforce their rights, should they feel they are violated.

The case was scheduled for a status hearing before High Court Judge Collins Parker yesterday.

The first four respondents are represented by government attorney Mehluli Ndlovu. NamRights has not yet confirmed who its legal representative is; ya Nangoloh has appeared on behalf of the organisation so far.


Similar News


Rastafarian sues for N$1.4m

6 hours ago | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITHWINDHOEKA convict serving 35 years for murdering his girlfriend is suing prison authorities for N$1.4 million for cutting his hair.Petrus Fridel Frederik claims his...

Dippenaar magistrate denies bias

13 hours ago | Justice

ERWIN LEUSCHNERSWAKOPMUNDAfter an eight-month break the marathon trial of murder accused Jandré Dippenaar continued at the regional court in Swakopmund this week. At the start...

Babi's bail hearing tomorrow

1 day - 02 June 2020 | Justice

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe hearing of a bail application by self-proclaimed “prophet” Jackson Babi (30) and his co-accused, Friza Dumeni (25), has been postponed to tomorrow.They are...

Employers take on Geingob over retrenchments

2 days ago - 01 June 2020 | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKThe Namibia Employers Federation (NEF) on Friday said President Hage Geingob had no business replacing the existing labour law with a proclamation which...

'Only God can judge him'

2 days ago - 01 June 2020 | Justice

FRANCOISE STEYNBERGWINDHOEKSelf-professed prophet of House of Joy Ministries, Pastor Jackson Babi (30), and his co-accused Friza Dumeni spent the weekend behind bars.Accused of illegally being...

Rundu self-confessed killer back in custody

2 days ago - 01 June 2020 | Justice

KENYA KAMBOWERUNDUMurder accused Castro Domingo (34), who recently made headlines following his release from custody after the Rundu Magistrate's Court provisionally struck his case from...

Fishrot accused swim solo for bail

5 days ago - 29 May 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGE WINDHOEK The cracks are starting to appear in what was previously a joint chorus sheet to either apply or stall...

Alleged girlfriend killer fights for discharge

6 days ago - 28 May 2020 | Justice

NAMPA WINDHOEK A man on trial in the Windhoek High Court for allegedly killing his girlfriend, International University of Management student Iyaloo...

Pointless releasing Gustavo – State

1 week ago - 27 May 2020 | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKThe State yesterday said granting Fishrot accused Ricardo Gustavo, who testified yesterday that he is 'penniless', would only burden his already suffering family.The former...

Late Ondonga king sued for strip-searching

1 week ago - 22 May 2020 | Justice

ILENI NANDJATO OSHAKATI The late omukwaniilwa of Ondonga, Immanuel Kauluma, is among 15 people cited in an almost N$4 million lawsuit by employees...

Latest News

Over 120 lose jobs at...

6 hours ago | Labour

KENYA KAMBOWERUNDUAbout 120 people lost their jobs yesterday after a fallout between Chinese-born business magnate Stina Wu and a subcontractor that labour inspectors found to...

The contest for hearts and...

6 hours ago | Opinion

Nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight, when everything remains seemingly unchanged.The above quote by...

Indemnity forms a matter of...

6 hours ago | Education

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKWith some learners expected to return to schools today, education ministry executive director Sanet Steenkamp says parents will have to trust that schools have...

Rastafarian sues for N$1.4m

6 hours ago | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITHWINDHOEKA convict serving 35 years for murdering his girlfriend is suing prison authorities for N$1.4 million for cutting his hair.Petrus Fridel Frederik claims his...

No new stimulus package for...

6 hours ago | Health

STAFF REPORTERWINDHOEKGovernment will not offer new emergency income grants for residents of Walvis Bay whose town is back on lockdown for seven days after recording...

No statistics on Angolan learners...

6 hours ago | Education

ILENI NANDJATOEENHANAThe Ohangwena directorate of education is struggling to establish how many Angolan children attend school in the region.Regional education director Isak Hamatwi says the...

Herd rebuilding affects slaughtering

6 hours ago | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEK Livestock producers have started rebuilding their herds after the drought, and for that reason, the number of...

Exploring sustainable use of biomass

6 hours ago | Agriculture

STAFF REPORTER WINDHOEK Biomass from Namibian encroacher bush could be turned into a valuable and climate-friendly export product. ...

Covid-19 cases remain at 25

6 hours ago | Health

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Namibia has remained steady at 25, according to deputy health minister Esther Muinjangue, who gave an...

Load More