Katima Mulilo — Amid pomp and ceremony with plenty of food, the annual Masubia Cultural Festival attracted thousands of people on Saturday at the palace of Chief Kisco Liswani III which serves as his traditional headquarters at Bukalo.
Saturday morning all roads in Caprivi seemed to lead to Bukalo some 50 kilometres east of Katima Mulilo. Both young and old dressed in colourful traditional attire, known locally as "Musisi", converged at Bukalo to celebrate a culture that spans centuries and is known as "Bwinkuhane bwetu".
Caprivi Governor who attended the event for the first time as Governor, Lawrence Sampofu, after missing out on last year's festival due to official commitments, applauded the Masubia community for embracing the spirit of unity in the region by inviting other ethnic groups to join in the celebrations.
"I congratulate the organising committee and the Masubia community for this memorable occasion. I usually feel happy when I see communities coming together to execute common social and cultural projects for the benefit of all. If there was no peace, people would not have come to this event," Sampofu said to loud applause and ululation. Sampofu used the platform to appeal for peace for the sake of development.
"I call upon the residents of this region that we should maintain peace. Where there's war, there's no development. Other regions are busy developing while we continue fighting over boundaries," Sampofu said in reference to unresolved tribal disputes over land.
Sampofu further stressed the importance of traditional authorities as custodians of cultural traditions and norms. "Traditional leaders are the pillars of Namibian society as they play a pivotal role in maintaining and sustaining the norms and principles in communities. It is only through traditional norms and principles that our people are cultivated and mobilised to adhere and understand the societal behaviour and conduct that bond the nation," said Sampofu.
Sampofu also implored the Masubia people and ethnic groups in the region to adopt a culture of hard work since government is doing its best to bring about much needed development.
"I encourage the Masubia people and all residents of the region to work hard for the progress of the entire region. Apart from the maintenance of peace and security in the region, we shall pay special attention to agriculture and infrastructure development such as roads, water supply and rural electrification," said Sampofu.
Sampofu also echoed Natamoyo Morris Muyatwa's sentiments, who after narrating the lineage of the Masubia chiefs, called for the documentation of Masubia culture for preservation. "I echo the words of the Natamoyo and call upon the academic community to make sure that history is written and is taught to our children so that our culture does not dissappear," appealed Sampofu.
Chief Liswani III of the Masubia called on his subjects to unite with other ethnic groups for the common goal of peace and development. "I call upon the Masubia community to unite. I still urge them to unite with other ethnic tribes for the sake of peace and development," the chief appealed.
Liswani III called on the Masubia, particularly those living around areas declared as conservancies to preserve the natural resources as they draw their livelihood from such resources. "I appeal to those with conservancies to preserve them as these conservancies are the source of livelihood for our people", said chief Liswani III.
Liswani III also appealed to Masubia people living along the common border with Botswana to desist from crossing over into Botswana to engage in illegal game hunting. "I appeal to people to stop crossing over into Botswana for illegal hunting. This behaviour should be stopped to avoid the unnecessary loss of life," the chief cautioned.
At the event, fallen former chiefs of the Masubia were remembered, with their lineage read out to the crowd before Albius Milinga Kamwi, a retired school teacher and a resident of Kalimbeza was introduced as the new Ngambela of the Masubia community.
Bukalo, the somewhat sleepy settlement, was transformed on Saturday as scores of youth flocked to the area shattering the usual tranquility of the settlement and bringing it to live with music and dance, while small traders and hawkers cashed in on the rare business opportunities that opened up on the day.
Many people from different ethnic groups graced the occasion including a delegation from the Hardap Region and the northwestern regions, as well as Botswana and Zambia. The Masubia people can be found in Botswana as well. Chief Moffat Maiba Nkonkwena of the Masubia in Botswana has become a regular guest to the annual event.
The youth congested the business area with an overwhelming number of vehicles with some having travelled as far as Windhoek and other towns in Namibia to attend the festivities..
Dignitaries present at the occasion included Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, the Governor of the Hardap Region, Temba Mutse, the District Commissioner of Chobe Region in Botswana, the Deputy Minister of Labour Alpheus Muheaua, Chief Moffat Maiba Nkonkwena of the Masubia in Botswana, George Simataa, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Chief Joseph Tembwe Mayuni of Mashi Traditional Authority, James Kachana, Ngambela of the Mayeyi Traditional Authority, Jerry Muadinohamba, CEO of Motor Vehicle Fund, Regina Ndopu-Lubinda, Chief Regional Officer of Caprivi, Raphael Mbala, Chairperson of the Caprivi Regional Council, Bollen Sankwasa, Regional Police Commander and local and regional authority councillors.
The Masubia people, who make up a larg percentage of the ethnic population in Caprivi, pride themselves on a culture originally known as "Bwinkuhane bwetu". Masubia people live in the eastern Zambezi plains of Namibia stretching as far as Muyako and Mahundu to Kalimbeza and Schuckmansburg along the Zambezi to Kasika and Impalila Island and even beyond the border in Zambia and Botswana.
The Masubia are known for their love of water due the livelihood they draw from food such as fish and water lilies, traditionally known as "Isoto".