By Faith Haushona-Kavamba
HAVING sponsored various cultural events in the country which contribute to the preservation of often forgotten traditions, finance giant Sanlam Namibia, took the initiative to host a road show which focuses on educating the youth of the various indigenous groups in Namibia. Last year, the My Culture, My Life roadshow took place in the Omusati region, with musicians Tunakie, Tequila and Exit at the helm of educating learners about cultural norms and practices.
This year it was held in the Kavango regions, where award-winning musicians Freeda, Uno Boy and upcoming group TKB were charged with education the learners of various schools of the culture and traditional norms of the Shambyu, Gciriku, Mbukushu, Mbunza and the Kwangali tribes. The tour kicked off at the Rundu Senior Secondary School in Rundu, then moved on to Dr Romanus Kampungu Secondary School, Rukongo Vision School, Kandjimi Murangi Secondary School and Himarwa Ithete Secondary School.
Having successfully wrapped up the roadshow, Confidente had a chat with Evans Simataa, general manager public and corporate support of the company, who was at the helm of the roadshow to get his take on culture, the drive for their company to have such an event and what the future has in store.
Q: In your opinion, what is culture and why was it important for Sanlam to have this roadshow?
A: In the Sanlam My Culture, My Life context, culture is seen as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. It is the characteristics and knowledge shared by a particular group of people, defined by everything from way of life, language, religion, values, shared attitudes, goals, practices, customs, beliefs, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. Knowing who you are and where you come from is extremely important. As Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”. It is for this reason that Sanlam decided to initiate and introduce this very important project. The main focus is promoting and preserving our cultural heritage with the aim of bringing the youth to accept, acknowledge, live, understand, identify with and be proud of their different cultures. We also believe that the use of well-known and role model artists is the way to attract the attention of the youth so as to inspire and motivate them to embrace their culture and tradition. This is important for Sanlam, since this platform will also present the opportunity to unite young Namibians through culture and tradition and help reduce tribalism and other forms of discriminations amongst different tribe because of lack of knowledge in culture and tradition.
Q: How do you view the success of this year’s road show?
A: Sanlam was overwhelmed with the amounts of students and learners that participated at each presentation. The interaction and the knowledge of their culture showed that they still appreciate their traditions, which may not be as visible and present as what it used to be. Not only did the learners come to listen to the Sanlam cultural ambassadors, but they also came prepared, proudly dressed and even performed a few cultural and traditional acts. Furthermore the roadshow was not only imparting of knowledge, it was also acquisition of knowledge with regards to culture and tradition. Traditional leaders in the regions were met and were the main source of the information that was communicated to the learners. Traditional leaders were equally excited to meet with our cultural ambassadors and to share information, as this is does not happen every day where people visit them to learn about their history, customs, beliefs, tradition and how they handle issues in the past such as disputes, ceremonies and education and upbringing of children. With a total of seven high schools and seven traditional leaders across the entire regions, this project was a resounding success.
Q: What expectations did the company have and were they met?
A: Our expectations were exceedingly met. We did not expect to have all traditional leaders with their busy schedules availing us time, but seeing the importance of the project, they made time for us. Schools were prepared and mobilised all their learners to attend and even participate. At some schools we found learners in traditional attire and ready to perform their traditional acts and showing us what they knew. We ended up also learning from them. We have received numerous requests from other regions asking us to do the same and visit their regions or areas.
Q: Any changes you would do for the next road show?
A: I am a staunch believer of the statement that excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends. We are not afraid of improving slowly; we are scared of standing still. So definitely there is always room for improvement and we will pursue all avenues to ensure that we improve and make this project impactful and relevant not only to the youth but the entire country at large. We are already looking into different ways of making this project more meaningful and impactful and several suggestions and ideas have been put on the table…
Q: Do you have an idea of where and when the next one will be?
A: Each year after the roadshow, we sit and do a post-mortem to evaluate the success of the campaign as well as the pitfalls of the campaign. During this same meeting we decide which region or regions to be visited next. And whether we have enough capacity and resources for such a region or regions. We intend on hosting the third edition during the same month next year. The region has not been identified yet.
Q: Doyouhaveanyrecommendations on what people/institutions can do to aid in the preservation of culture?
A: A lot of Namibians, especially the youth are desisting from their cultural and traditional ways of life due to influences from external bodies and ignorance. We strongly believe that people and institutions will go a long way in promoting and preserving our cultures if we continuously organise and arrange traditional festivals that can showcase our diverse cultures. Initiatives where the youth and population at large are encouraged to put on our traditional clothes and eat our traditional food are important. Our indigenous languages should be promoted and taught in elementary and secondary schools even at tertiary levels. Schools should arrange trips to cultural heritage sites. Parents should give their children basic cultural orientation. On the other hand, Government and other organisations should organise and promote cultural programmes and initiatives. The main thing that we learnt about this trip is to talk about culture is to still keep it alive even though it may not be practised as much.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015