KEETMANSHOOP, 25 MAY – The inaugural Nama Cultural Festival started at Keetmanshoop on Thursday.
It began with a demonstration of the Kharu-#nûis – a ceremony were a young girl is prepared for womanhood and sits in a dark room of a reed house for five days until her menstrual cycle ends – at the Westdene Stadium.
This was followed by a demonstration of how a goat is slaughtered, traditional games and horse riding.
Amongst those present were Deputy Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, Agnes Tjongarero and Deputy Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Lucia Witbooi.
The festival is being attended by people from all over Namibia, South Africa and Botswana.
In an interview with Nampa, Nichodimas Cooper from Botswana said he was excited to attend the festival as it is a historical event for the Nama people.
He travelled over 1 200 kilometres to Keetmanshoop.
“We have so many festivals in Namibia of different Nama clans, but this festival is special because it brought all the Nama clans together to celebrate our culture,” Cooper said.
He further said Nama people in Botswana have hoped for a festival that would unite all Namas for years, and now it is finally happening. He called it a dream come true.
“Our people have lost their language and culture so that is part of the reason why we came. The Namas here speak the language and even practice the culture. We had no excuse to not be here,” he remarked.
The festival initially faced some opposition, with some saying it was being organised to promote political agendas or certain political parties, but the organising committee was adamant that its sole aim was to promote unity in the Nama community.
The spokesperson of the organising committee, Antonio Stuurman earlier told this news agency in light of the shared history and destiny of the Nama community in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, they planned to stage a “unifying festival.”
“This festival essentially represents the renewal of cooperation and partnership between the Nama communities in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana,” he said.
Activities lined up for the event include a 50-horse parade with a brass band including representatives of all 12 sub-tribes of the Nama in their traditional attire; football; a ‘langarm’ dance; performance of poetry, arts and dramas; a panel discussion and music show.
A cultural village has also been set up where people showcase how traditional medicine is mixed, while young girls are being taught how to make and wear a doek and demonstrations of traditional massages are being done.
The festival ends Sunday.