8 November 2012

Namibia: Ombadja Organises Own Olufuko

GIRLS from the Ombadja community are set to go through a traditional ceremony called Olufuko at Oiputa next month to prepare them for “womanhood”.

Ombadja senior chief Mathias Walaula told The Namibian yesterday that November and December are the peak months for Olufuko festivals in his community.

The other time is during winter, between June and August.

He said that there are a lot of initiations taking place and he is not able to attend every one of them.

Olufuko is a ritual where Owambo girls go through week-long domestic chores training with fellow teenagers at a designated homestead.

The ceremony is said to have been introduced in ancient times to, among others, reduce the then skyrocketing pregnancy rate among teenage girls.

The girls are targeted for the ceremony after their first menstruation.

The girls go through more than 10 traditional chores such as pounding grain and cooking.

The revival of the official Olufuko festival in the Omusati Region this year caused a lot of controversy with some churches labelling the practice as unchristian.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia and Namrights in particular condemned the practice, particularly the alleged virginity testing.

NamRights reportedly made a formal request to the United Nations’s Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Gabriela Guzman, to classify Olufuko traditional marriages as a harmful tradition or even a crime against humanity.

The organisation earlier wrote an open letter to President Hifikepunye Pohamba urging him to intervene in the revival of the practice, expressing concern that children under the age of 18 would be initiated under the watch of the traditions authorities at Outapi, Okalongo, Oshikuku and possibly other places in Omusati.

The traditional practice has however received the backing of top government officials who attended the ceremony.

Copyright © 2012 The Namibian. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.