Namibia: Mbumba Calls for Return of Cultural Artefacts

17 April 2019

Onayena — Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba has called for the return of Namibia's cultural artefacts that were collected during pre-colonial times and now lie in foreign museums.

He made this remark at Nehale Secondary School in Onayena during the launch of a historical catalogue and a mobile exhibition museum 'Oombale Dhiihaka', which is loosely translated as 'a bond that cannot be broken', under the custodianship of the Museum Association of Namibia (MAN).

The exhibition and catalogue tell the story of a piece of the Emanya Lyoshilongo Shandoga, meaning the 'power stone of the Ondonga kingdom.'

"The Finnish government has been very committed and returned similar stones to the Oukwanyama and Ombalantu kingdoms. I hope that the information contained in this exhibition will also encourage the return of the power stone of the Ondonga kingdom to Namibia," Mbumba said.

"It is important that we develop museums in the regions which can provide permanent homes for such cultural artefacts, to serve as educational resources and provide places filled with memories and stories to inspire Namibians." Mbumba noted that the objects obtained from Ondonga kingdom provide important insight into the cultural heritage of the community at that time.

"The exhibition indicates that it is important to understand the beliefs that people had, whether we or not subscribe to those beliefs," he stated. MAN, in collaboration with the National Museum Association of Finland, will donate 940 educational resource materials to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture for secondary school libraries, says education deputy minister Anna Nghipondoka .

The catalogue will serve as a historical resource book for pupils. It is based on photographs of 127 artefacts that were collected by the Finnish missionary Martti Rautanen over a hundred years ago from the Ondonga community.

"The catalogues showcase historical artefacts and objects which will enhance knowledge. Some of these things have been spoken around the fire, but with this book one gets to know and understand what was there before as all information is documented. The book will be given to all secondary school libraries," stressed Nghipondoka.

Chairperson of Museum Association of Namibia Dr Martha Akawa said MAN will strive to ensure that museums in Namibia will contain inclusive educational resources that make a significant contribution to nation building. "Museums will be important educational resources and forums that serve as cultural contact zones and windows on the wider world. Museums will further provide access to knowledge, focusing on our unique tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage," added Akawa.

MAN will establish a musical museum in Omuthiya and another museum in Katima Mulilo, Zambezi Region, which will incorporate historical events of all inhabitants to demonstrate how culture is linked to environmental concerns. MAN will also undertake an exhibition on Re-viewing San History and Culture based on a collection of San artefacts from Namibia held by Museum Africa in Johannesburg.

The European Union ambassador, Jana Hybaskova, said the artefacts that were collected by the Finnish missionaries create a strong cultural bond for both communities.

Hybaskova expressed gratitude that Namibia is a calm and peaceful country where there are no political prisoners, and she commended Namibia for spending money on developing culture as opposed to other countries that divert such money for political conflicts. Schools in Ondangwa and Oniipa can visit the exhibition at Northcote Gate for free bookings from May 27.

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