Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Cultural Festival Celebrates Diversity

The Polytechnic of Namibia celebrated its 16th annual cultural festival under the theme, "Monbazu Ouete Vemue" which can be loosely translated into "in culture we are one", this week.

The festivities will end this Friday with the crowning of Miss and Mr Polytechnic of Namibia.

Speaking at the official opening of the festival on Tuesday, Pohamba Shifeta, deputy minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, said since after independence the promotion of culture has been successful in the country.

"In schools our young people are practising their different cultures freely. Gone are those days when our youth were ashamed of identifying themselves with their own cultures. Now we can proudly say that we have discovered our diversity of culture and are in the process of regaining our lost self-esteems and identity," he said.

He said culture is a lot more than just a norm, value and belief of a society as understood by many people.

"UNESCO defines culture as the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterise a society or a social group. It includes not only art and letters but also a mode of life, the fundamental right of human beings, value systems, tradition and belief. Therefore it is important to say that culture is our guidance, as adults and children on how to act, behave and even adapt to diverse social values in our communities," he said.

According to Shifeta, culture is the light that shows the right pathway.

It is a sense of identity, culture moulds the acceptance of positive values and reject negative ones. It's the bridge that links the past, the present and the future, he said.

"It is now the 16th year that the Polytechnic of Namibia organised festivals of this kind, not only to showcase our culture, but also to educate and in-still the sense of pride in our nation and thus promote and preserve our tangible and intangible cultural heritage," said Shifeta.

Also speaking at the event, Tjama Tjivikua, rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia said that the dialogue between nations and culture is the most vital tool in order to overcome cultural and social barriers, and to reduce tension and polarisation between societies of different religious and cultural values.

"In a relentlessly globalising world that incessantly changes, shifts and innovates, human migration and the freedom of movement have led to massive cultural exchanges and global dialogues. Encounting cultural differences can not be avoided in the world we live, so a tolerant and respectful dialogue is the most important skill for all nations and communities," he said.

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