By Eliaser Ndeyanale and Johannes Hangula
IN an attempt to preserve culture and tradition Oshiwambo language students at the University of Namibia celebrated the Oshipe festival on Saturday at the main campus in Windhoek.
Oshipe is a harvest festival focused on different aspects of the Oshiwambo culture, it is held in honour of harvesting, the cooking of traditional food for the first consumption, and thanksgiving to the ancestors.
Dressed in their traditional attires, more than 200 students demonstrated to onlookers and fellow students how Oshipe is commemorated, while at the same time shared rituals and taboos around Oshiwambo culture.
Some of the rituals and taboos shared during Oshipe celebrations, include dishing a bit of all the food which is prepared and given to the ancestors before people start eating or drinking traditional beer, and blowing it to the east and west, or throwing porridge and wild spinach in the same directions while speaking to the ancestors to thank them for blessings and also to pray for more blessings such as rain and food in the following season.
The students also shed light on what is culturally done before people start consuming wild spinach known as omboga. According to tradition, before anybody eats omboga the head of the house has to eat it first together with a piece of the coal from the fire just lit before all members of the family follow suit. The coal symbolise good luck.
The coal is believed to drive away bad spirits and misfortunes. No one is allowed to eat omboga before the offering to the ancestral spirit is made. Should one break this rule, it is believed that they will suffer from an incurable stomach ache.
In an interview with Confidente students said that they were celebrating the festival to promote and preserve culture, adding that the festival also forms part of the academic exercises of students studying Oshiwambo in the department of languages and literature studies.
“The festival also teaches young people the cultural ways of respect and good conduct in society, especially in front of elders”. Oshiwambo lecturer Petrus Mbenzi, said that the festival is not only crucial as an academic exercise, but also to teach people about culture. Mbenzi said in addition to culture, the festival also promotes the values and norms of the Oshiwambo people.
Efraim Natangwe, a third-year student, remarked that the festival is aimed at informing, educating and entertaining people with a view towards appreciating and enhancing
traditional and cultural identities. Andreas Victor also a third year student highlighted the importance of the festival, saying that people need to know their heritage in order to be directed to where they are headed.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015