Thousands Mark Lusata at Chinchimane

Thousands of people thronged the sleepy settlement of Chinchimane to mark the annual Lusata Cultural Festival hosted by Chief George Simasiki Mamili of the Mafwe tribe.

Lusata usually celebrated on the last weekend of each September, was marked at Chinchimane on Sunday some 65 km south west of Katima Mulilo where euphoric Mafwe and multitude others rejoiced in the heritage spanning several decades.

Chichimane, the traditional seat of Chief George Simasiku Mamili, was a hive of activity as both the young, the old, the able-bodied and the infirm converged to showcase the Mafwe ancestral dance and feast on a variety of traditional food.

Some guests came from as far as neighbouring Botswana and Zambia. Chief Peter Chika of Parakarungu of Botswana also attended.

The chieftainship of the Mafwe begun in 1864 under their first chief Imataa Mamilili who ruled up to 1910 leading to a lineage and a rich history of other Mafwe chiefs up to the present day.

The festival is often preceded by celebratory gunfire. Prior to the event many vehicles in Katima Mulilo were spotted draped in Mafwe traditional colours as a build up for the event. The Lusata Cultural Festival has reached its 31st anniversary. Hawkers and small traders were also presented with a rare business opportunity as they capitalised on the two-day festivity.

The Mafwe are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Zambezi Region. The arrival of the reigning Chief Mamili drew ululations and chants in a lengthy procession that involved the hoisting of the Mafwe flag to signal the start of festivities.

Later on an ivory encrusted stick (royal mace) known as Lusata, from which the festival derives its name from, was held aloft by the chief in another lengthy procession for everybody to see.

The royal mace symbolises Mamili’s g leadership and his ability to unify the Mafwe people. Candles were also lit in remembrance of those who lost their lives due to gender-based violence.

The Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Priscilla Beukes spoke about the importance of the preservation of Namibian cultures.

“The Lusata Cultural Festival serves to celebrate and preserve the cultural identity, heritage and pride as well as acts of heroic deeds by Mafwe speaking members. This festival serves as a commitment to the preservation and promotion of our cultures, especially the Mafwe people and also to educate our young generation about moral and cultural values,” stated Beukes.

Beukes lauded the traditional authorities in joining the call to end gender-based violence, adding this trend was eroding society’s moral fabric. “Gender based violence is a cancer that is spreading in our society and requires collective action. The government acknowledges with great appreciation the commitment shown by Namibians at various levels including our traditional authorities to prevent and curb gender based violence,” noted Beukes.

She, however, expressed concern regarding acts of disunity that seem to permeate many communities, particularly disputes over land jurisdiction by traditional authorities.

“Government has noted with great concern, elements of disunity among some of our traditional communities. Too often we hear about squabbles over land ownership and so called ancestral land and communities wanting to be compensated. I urge traditional authorities to promote peace and harmony,” appealed Beukes.

Beukes further stated that as part of government’s intervention strategy it has introduced the communal land rights registration meant to allocate land efficiently and equitably. “One of the steps taken by government is the communal land rights registration programme that is run by the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement in line with the communal land reform act of 2002. We call on our traditional authorities to urge their communities to participate in this programme,” she stated.

In his message, Chief Mamili was appreciative of government developmental projects in his area of jurisdiction singling out the rural electrification programme, roads infrastructure, health services and potable water.

“The Mafwe tribe appreciates government projects such as roads that are going to be completed soon, electricity supply in government schools and clinics as well as the provision of potable water and health services. These services continue to better the lives of the rural people. I pledge to support all these initiatives,” he said.

He, however, called on government to erect clinics at areas such as Masida, Kwena and Kaenda to shorten the distance people have to travel to access health services.

He also appealed for the electrification of Sachinga, Sachona and Bitto bemoaning the slow pace of rural electrification in these areas.

Chief Mamili was equally happy with the drought relief programme which is facilitated by the regional council appealing to the beneficiaries to stop selling their food rations.

“The Zambezi Regional Council must be applauded for drought relief and the manner in which the food is being distributed. I therefore caution beneficiaries to consume the food they get and not sell,” said Mamili.

Mamili urged his subjects to vote in the upcoming general elections. Among other dignitaries in attendance were Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Doreen Sioka, the Director-General of the Namibia Central Intelligence Organisation (NSIO), Lukas Hangula, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peya Mushelenga, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa, the Deputy Minister of Justice Tommy Nambahu, the Deputy Minister of Education, Sylvia Makogne, the Omusati Regional Governor, Sophia Shaningwa and the Omaheke Regional Gorvernor, Festus Uitele.

Source : New Era