Celebrations of culture build tolerance and appreciation for various civilizations. Celebrating both our differences and our shared passions unites and educates us. It further enables us to comprehend the viewpoints of others, to widen our own comprehension, and to fully experience and educate ourselves. Diversity is larger than the sum of its components, which include, to name a few, ethnicity, ethnic origin and color, religion and creed, sexual orientation, age, and ability. As ever-evolving creatures in an ever-changing universe, this one notion, encompasses the numerous facets of our humanity, including all our methods of being, knowing, and navigating through the world (Hlengwa, 1998).
As human beings, we are disclosed and make ourselves known through an unlimited variety of intelligence, language, race, morals, politics, religion, national service, gender expression, and philosophy. The first step towards the celebration of our diversity is the realization of our shared humanity. Diversity is the primary attribute of the creative force and the essential fact in our comprehension and management of it.
Diversity is seen as a crucial unifying factor in both the interdisciplinary approach to education and the larger life experience. Humans can flourish in an institutional culture where the entire spectrum of human attributes is considered with reverence and where the unique talents of each community member are honored via intentional appreciation. Our national culture has been influenced by the adage “Think globally, act locally” to better appreciate the heterogeneous society of which we are a part. The world’s systems, including its governments, economy, religions, and cultures, are becoming ever more intertwined. In a collaborative effort, differences therefore become strengths. Peace can be achieved via collaboration. All of these factors and more make diversity a cause for celebration once a year.
The Lusata Cultural Festival is an annual meeting of the Mafwe tribe, one of the ethnic groups of the Zambezi Region, formerly known as the Caprivi Region, in the Republic of Namibia. The celebration honors traditional norms, values, and rituals. It honors the past while looking ahead to the future. Annually, it occurs during the last week of September. The celebration is named for the ivory-encrusted royal mace. The present Chief is Chief George Chikandekande Simasiku Mamili VII. During the festival, the Chief advises his people on a variety of topics impacting them and evaluates government activities occurring in his area of expertise through his spokesperson.
In 1981, the former Mafwe chief Richard Temuso Muhinda Mamili V founded the Lusata Cultural Festival. The celebration honors both historical and contemporary Mafwe heroes. Such a feast day is observed with pomp and splendor in the chief’s residence, where it is accompanied by traditional dances and speeches. The sons and daughters who attend the annual Lusata cultural festival in Chinchimane are, in essence, congratulating themselves on their accomplishments in politics, education, agriculture, and numerous other fields of human endeavor, as well as their ancestors who are buried beneath the earth at Linyanti and elsewhere in the region (Matjila, 2006).
The majestic profile of the Lusata, crowned with an elephant, is the symbol of strength and endurance for the Mafwe Traditional Authority, exactly as the Red Indians of North America use totems to designate clans or tribes. The elephant is commonly known as the gentle giant since it is not prone to angry outbursts. However, when provoked, it becomes extremely lethal. Mafwe Traditional Lusata is denoted by the letters “MTL” that appear beneath the elephant. The royal mace is one of these instruments of authority that can only be held by a Mafwe chief or king. The Mafwe mace is a traditional institution rather than a symbol of tribal authority. It includes every subtribe of the Mafwe. The Mafwe ethnic groups continue to be a multilingual community, comprised of the following linguistic categories, segments, or clans: ba-Linyanti (descendants of the Luyana and a few remnants of Sebitwane’s Kololos), Totela (bena Luhani and bena Chilao), ba-Fwe, ba-Mbukushu, ba-Subiya-Fwe (Bekuhane/bena-Mahe). Until 1992 and 2004, some of the Yeyis and Ba-Fwe splintered off and installed their own chiefs, all of these groups had been living in harmony under Chief Mamili since the turn of the last century (Lilemba, 2009).
In the Mafwe community, variety and cohesion are the norm. The leopard’s claws etched beneath the elephant represent the might of the chief, whose hands hold formidable weapons for attack and protection. The Lusata Cultural Festival was founded during the reign of Chief Richard Muhinda Mamili V, whose initials RMM represent. The intertwining trunks of the braided tree symbolize the numerous Mafwe tribes united under a single leader. The shaft of the Lusata is attached to a handle made of hardwood from the forests of Mafwe. The hardwood is a partner of the Lusata and represents the firm ground upon which all wonderful things, such as humans, flora, and fauna, stand. Lastly, the Lusata annual cultural festival is celebrated to develop and attain unity in variety, as well as to honor the chiefs and other slain heroes who established the foundation (Matjila, 2006).
Beyond the Lusata anniversary of 2022
The Lusata celebration encourages and strengthens the commitment to actively meet the changing educational, economic, cultural, and societal needs of the region, the nation, and the world. The gathering facilitates the acceptance, appreciation, and celebration of diverse ideas, cultures, and values. The event comprises a wide variety of local and international music, energetic dancing, tasty cuisine, and inventive arts & crafts. However, it is a worthwhile event that allows schools and residents of the local community, region, or country to join in the celebration of culture through art and entertainment.
After COVID-19, the Lusata is celebrated
This aims to promote diversity celebration and provides an excellent historical overview of the event up until COVID-19. However, the spirit of the celebration has not changed. Sope Dixon Mubita Lusepani and Sope Patrick Tubazie Likukela, the two recently deceased Premiers of the Mafwe Traditional Authority, would be honored with a significant portion of the festivities, according to this opinion (may their souls rest in eternal peace).
Diversity and longevity of Lusata
Diversity, when applied to humans, refers to the incorporation of a vast array of cultures, ethnicities and groups, races, religious beliefs, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The diversity of life encompasses not just the vast universe of human cultures and languages, but also the vast universe of plant and animal species, habitats, and ecosystems. Consequently, a world or community that is more sustainable is one in which biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity thrives due to the system’s resilience. On the basis of this wide array of ecological and human cultures, a sustainable and resilient global community is constructed. While the diversity festival promotes sustainability via diversity, its ongoing greening measures include support for local businesses, procurement of local food, and efforts to reduce product packaging (bulk vs. individual).
Maya Angelou reminds us that there is both beauty and strength in diversity: Therefore, when the Lusata cultural festival day approaches during the last week of September 2022, let us all embrace peace and harmony. We ask the Mafwe and all attendees to enjoy the Lusata 2022 in style and to respect each other’s cultural differences.
On October 2, 2022, Chinchimane will be the place to be. Peace!
This opinion piece was written by Mr. Sibuku Malumbano and Mr.Munyungano Musisanyani of the Mafwe Tribe.Views and opinions expressed in this article are not those of the Caprivi Vision Nespaper