WE as a people have a unique culture which is typified by our traditional wear, food and drinks, how we are raised into adulthood and our wedding ceremonies.
The various Kavango tribes have their own unique attire however there are similar traits in the traditional wear which are unique to the regions themselves.
Our traditional wear, is made of animal skins bedazzled with beads. Individuals are free to use beads of any colour; however the cheetah and leopard skins are reserved for members of the royal family. The skirt is called Ndjareko and the traditional hat is called vihiho.
The Kavango people are culturally farmers and fishermen. They grow most of their food and catch fresh water fish from the Kavango River. Among the staple foods from the region are
Mahangu porridge, mutete (bitter leaf spinach), makunde (beans), mafumbura (mushrooms), malyangwa (pumpkin leaves), as well magunis and Makweyo (wild oranges), to name a few.
Women brew traditional drinks like sibwabweka/sikundu (non-alcoholic) and mutoho (traditional beer).
When a girl reaches puberty i.e. on the first day of her menstruation she has to be separated from other girls and kept in a small hut called shiteye. There she would be trained by the elder women on various things like acceptable moral and social standards, how to carry herself, etc.
Martin ‘Uno Boy’ Kangumbe
FOR Sanlam’s My Culture, My Life project, I was tasked with looking at the history of each of the five official tribes, how their kings and queens are appointed and the set-up of the traditional homestead.
The Kwangali and the Mbunza people originate from the west of the Kavango Region. The Sambyu, Gciriku and Mbukushu are from the East. However, all five tribes have the same way of living and the same cultural practices. It is common among the Gciriku, Sambyu and Mbukushu to appoint both kings and queens; however the Mbunza and the Kwangali people mainly only elect kings. The king/queen’s nephews and nieces are the only candidates eligible for the throne; the ruling king/queen’s children are not in line out of fear of giving the crown away to none-Kavango people.
The traditional homestead is divided into two, one for each of the sexes in the household. There is a side where women do their daily chores, like cooking, pounding mahangu and taking care of the children. The other side of the homestead belongs to the men. It is there that the bonfire (Sinyanga) for the homestead is lit and stories are exchanged in the evenings after a long day of work.
Bonesy ya Mukongo (TKB)
THERE are various aspects that make up the culture of the Kavango people; I looked at the craftsmanship of the five tribes. The Kavango people are renowned for their craftsmanship, when they see a tree; they see various useful tools that they can make from it. They see canoes, plates, cups, tables, bows/arrows and musical drums called Ngoma. The only way the young generation can know about these things is by respecting their culture and listening attentively when they are being taught about it.
It is not advisable for a Kavango person to go out of the country without knowing or respecting their culture. One can make or buy their traditional attire and wear it in another country, as a sign of pride of one’s culture and so that the people of that country realise that you treasure your culture. Locally, there are various endeavours undertaken by the Kavango people to show how proud they are of their culture, one of them is the annual Rufuko festival where all the tribes gather and entertain each other with traditional song, dance, attire and food, among others. This event takes place at Ekongoro and one can see dances like mutjokotjo, epera and kambamba.
Joseph Kandere (TKB)
MY main object of discussion was the initiation rites of when boys become men and the source of livelihood for of the Kavango people.
In terms of initiation rites, I focused on various chores that were aimed at strengthening the boys’ position as a provider and a protector in the household. Cultivating land, heading livestock, chopping and collecting firewood, fishing and hunting, are among some of the things boys had to excel in to prove that they were ready to become men. Once they mastered them, it meant that they were husband material and the protectors of their families. Boys were also expected to wrestle, with the strongest being given the title of Ngudi (a strong tree that cannot be cut down).
In terms of livelihood, the Kwangali, Sambyu, Mbukushu, Mbuza and Gciricus all live on the banks of the Kavango River, which provides for most if not all their wants. The river is a source of fresh water, fish, crocodile, hippos, amongst other things that can be found useful in daily life. The water and fish is obviously for consumption, however the crocodiles skin is used to manufacture leather products, for household use or to sell, and the hippos make for a good tourist attraction.
Abby Kavara (TKB)
FOR the Sanlam My Culture, My Culture roadshow, I looked at the various tools that the Kavango people used (and still use) and musical instruments.
All five tribes need specific tools for when they go fishing, hunting, and field work or simply for pounding mahangu. These tools are similar across all the five tribes, although they have specific instances for when they are used. For instance, when it comes to fishing they use fishing baskets, hooks (marowo) or baskets made from plants; these baskets are called yikuku noyintunga. The fishing hooks are best used in deep waters, while the baskets are used in shallow waters.
When it comes to hunting, the Kavango people mainly use bows and arrows, or spears (egonga). To pound maize or mahangu they use a large mortar and pestle called sini nomunhwi made from wood and weave baskets to use as carriers.
All the five tribes, although they have varying traditional dances, have the same musical instruments. They mainly use drums of varying sizes for various sound effects. They have the drums called the nkurugoma (bass drum), nkinza (tenor drum) and matjakali (soprano drum).
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015