Mayeyi Celebrate Cultural Heritage

The Batshara Batshapi cultural festival of the Mayeyi people in Zambezi attracted thousands of people who gathered at Sangwali.

The annual Batshara Batshupi cultural festival of Chief Boniface Shufu was held at Sangwali in Judea Lyabboloma Constituency on Sunday.

The Batshara Batshupi has become cemented on the cultural calendar of the Zambezi Region.

The festival entered its 22nd anniversary since the official recognition of the Bayeyi people as an independent ethnic tribe in 1992 when they split from the Linyanti Khuta which at the time was the traditional seat of the Mafwe tribe.

Scores of young and old people converged at the festival where Mayeyi culture and cuisine was showcased including the popular ancestral dance of Shiboli which forms part of the rich cultural heritage of the Bayeyi people.

Mayeyi people from Botswana came in droves accompanying their Chief Chikati Fish Malepe Wuzuo and his Ngambela Leokame Lekgoho.

Chief Joseph Tembwe of the Mashi traditional authority and Ngambela of the Masubia tribe, Albius Kamwi, also formed part of the festival.

The Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, (Retired) Major-General Charles Namoloh whose speech was read on his behalf by his special aisor, Philip Tjerije noted that apart from promoting the Bayeyi culture, the cultural festival should be a platform for social cohesion.

“Our cultural festivals should serve as vehicles to cement, to enhance and consolidate unity and social cohesion within our communities. While we celebrate and promote the cultural heritage of our community we should be mindful that the ultimate aim is to promote social cohesion in our community as an integral part of a collective Namibian national identity,” stated Namoloh.

Zambezi Regional Governor, Lawrence Sampofu, implored the Mayeyi people to take education seriously. “I plead with the Mayeyi community to embark on education. This part of the region is still left behind in terms of education. Let’s send our children to school so that we would be in a better position to fight poverty,” stated Sampofu.

Sampofu was, however, concerned with increased cases of poaching and the plunder of fish resources appealing to traditional leaders to help curb these illegal practices.

“I urge you to refrain from poaching. Some 30 minutes ago, a game guard told me that two elephants were poached yesterday. Let’s take care and preserve our animals and bio diversity. There’s also overfishing in our rivers. I appeal to silalo indunas not to permit foreigners to come and fish here without the necessary permit. These people are depleting our resources,” he noted.

In his message Chief Boniface Shufu denounced what he called “rebellious attempts” by some of his subjects who continuously fail to honour his chieftainship stressing the constitution of Namibia gives the Bayeyi the right to install their own chief. “This traditional authority has observed with great concern rebellious attempts by some of our subjects who have resorted to unconstructive behaviour of not respecting their traditional authority for reasons only known to them. Let us remind our subjects that there will always be one chief for each tribe or traditional authority as per our constitution,” said the Mayeyi chief.

Although not entirely happy with the provision of electricity and safe drinking water, Chief Shufu was gratified by government efforts to improve the livelihood of his community.

“I want to commend government which ensures that development comes to every corner of this region in terms of health facilities, education and infrastructural development like the MR125 road. However, challenges remain such as the provision of electricity and clean drinking water.”

Chief Shufu further appealed to government to urgently resolve the issue of the Lianshulu community who recently petitioned government with the intention of wanting to return to their ancestral land of Nqakatwa, which is now part of Mudumo national park.

“Another serious challenge is that of the community of Lianshulu who were forcefully removed from Nqakatwa in 1980 by the South African colonial regime. The country is aware of the demonstrations conducted by that community for land and clean drinking water. Their actions should not be viewed as looking for trouble but to return land taken from them. I appeal to the government to consider adjusting the borders of the park,” appealed chief Shufu.

With areas under his jurisdiction mostly found in conservancies and parks thus making people susceptible to humanwildlife conflicts, Chief Shufu also appealed for a review of the compensation policy of the Ministry of environment and tourism.

“I am told that wild animals like buffaloes can destroy your crop field completely but they are not listed in the compensation policy. I am also told that the compensation for loss of cattle to predators is N$1500 per head. This is irrational and government must review this policy with immediate effect,” noted Shufu.

Before official recognition as an independent ethnic tribe, the Mayeyi community used to fall under the Mafwe traditional authority.

The quest for recognition as an independent tribe started in 1985 when the first Mayeyi committee was chosen to petition the then apartheid South African government without much success.

Upon Namibia’s independence, the Mayeyi community persisted by petitioning the new government which ultimately culminated in official recognition and the coronation of its first and incumbent Chief Boniface Shufu.

Mayeyi people, although a minority are mostly found in the south western part of the Zambezi.

They have a unique language known as Shiyeyi which contains clicks.

Source : New Era