Mariental — Several leaders in the Hardap region, including regional governor Salomon April, have called on Namibians to embrace the different cultures that exist within the country and learn from them.
Speaking at the opening ceremony to celebrate Namibia Heritage Week in Mariental on Monday, April noted that heritage alone is not enough and therefore urged the country to manage culture that would be beneficial to every citizen.
"Our heritage is being regarded only as a Nama dress, an Oshiwambo dress but it is about time that we sit back and start to think how could we possibly turn this heritage that we have into a commodity that can add to economic value for us, how can we turn it into a commodity that we can trade for economic value that it has," the governor urged.
April also urged people to refrain from creating unnecessary tribal wars, stating that this will only create further division amongst the different cultures. "Instead of picking fights, let us regard others. None of us here filled in an application form to be born into a specific tribe. Let us continue to tolerate the different cultures because we cannot change it, culture is here to stay," he added.
A local pastor, Charles Goliath echoed April's sentiments and stated that a pluralistic multicultural society is important, hence Namibians need to learn how to coexist. "Culture is not stagnant, it is the way we live and the way we behave, and at any given time we relate with others. As we celebrate this heritage week, are we celebrating our union, our similarities as a nation and our different cultures, or are we emphasising our differences and saying that my culture is superior to your culture?" he enquired.
Goliath added that although celebrating culture is a beautiful endeavour, Namibians need to learn and understand other cultures in order to add value to the different cultures that exist in the country.
Speaking at the same event, mayor of Mariental, Willem Mensah said that the event encourages Namibians to commit themselves to showcase their heritage and noted that the objective of hosting the Namibia Heritage Week is two folds. "First to make our community aware of the importance of culture and for them to know what culture is. Secondly, to preserve and promote cultural heritage in the communities," said Mensah.
This year's Namibian Heritage Week is themed Ombazu Ndjiritutumuna in the Otjiherero language, which translates 'building cultural resilience'. The annual celebration is hosted by the Ministry of Education,
Arts and Culture under the directorate of heritage and cultural programmes. The week-long celebrations entail various activities such as traditional performances, a cultural entrepreneurship day, music festival, spoken word and will end with a traditional cooking competition on Friday.