THE more than N$700 000 collected at this year’s Olufuko Festival in the Omusati Region will be used to upgrade the facility where the controversial event was held, said the region’s governor, Sophia Shaningwa.
Shaningwa said the centre, which hosted close to 10 000 people during the Olufuko Festival in August, will be upgraded to include conference and accommodation facilities, which will enable the region to generate revenue all year round, and not only during the festival.
Altogether, funds collected amounted to N$788 689, with former President and Father of the Nation having given N$5 000 of that money. Nujoma is the Patron of the Olufuko Festival.
“Initially we didn’t have any funds to host the Olufuko festival. Some of the funds were either borrowed from lenders such as banks, to enable us to have starting capital to head the project. That site is not only an Olufuko Centre, it is actually a trade fair centre. We are looking forward to engaging stakeholders to make sure the site is upgraded to a standardised centre for the Omusati Region,” said Shaningwa.
She added that her region has close to 5 000 teachers and many other public servants, as well as traditional authorities who receive regular training but always have to be trained outside the region because the region lacks suitable training facilities.
“Whenever we have training, we always go spend our travel and subsistence allowance in other regions. It’s time other regions also come to spend their allowances here in Outapi with the upgraded facilities. The centre is not only for Olufuko, this is a bigger idea. What we have in mind is to develop the region and put it at the standard of all other developed regions,” said Shaningwa.
Others who donated funds towards the festival are Shaningwa herself with an amount of N$6 000, the B. H. Group of companies with N$23 100, the Outapi War Museum with N$5 000, Arsenal Bar with N$5 100, Reverend Tshapaka tsha Kapolo with N$200, to mention just a few.
“In addition, the Outapi Town Council has made provision for more than N$2 million. We need an additional N$10 million for us to be able to complete the upgrading of the facility because we also plan to put in electricity. We therefore need more stakeholders to come on board,” said Shaningwa.
The revived initiation festival was not without controversy, receiving criticism from certain sectors of society, namely non-governmental organisations, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (Elcin).
The Elcin denounced the festival as unchristian and called upon its members to distance themselves from the festival.
Photos of bare-breasted girls taken at the festival and published in local media were described as “sexually enticing and pornographic” by Women’s Solidarity Namibia (WSN), a non-governmental organisation that works with women in abusive relationships.
Nevertheless, Shaningwa said despite opposing views on this year’s traditional initiation festival which attracted exactly 9 897 people, the region has decided to promote Olufuko and make it a yearly event.
“We cannot underestimate our culture and tradition because without it you are doomed to fail. You will not understand where you come from, where you are and where you are going. As we speak, we already have 50 girls who have signed up to undergo initiation at next year’s festival. And these girls are untouched,” said the governor.