Cultural celebration fosters respect and open-mindedness for other cultures. Celebrating our diversity, as well as our common interests, helps unite and educate us. It further helps us to understand other's perspectives, to broaden our own understanding, and to fully experience and educate ourselves. Diversity is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, which includes race, ethnic origin and colour, religion and creed, sexual orientation, age and ability, to name but a few. As ever-evolving creatures in an ever-changing world, the innumerable aspects of our humanity, all our ways of being, knowing and moving through the world, are contained in this one concept - Hlengwa (1998).
As human beings, we are revealed and make ourselves known to one another by infinite varieties of intelligence, language, race, values, politics, religion, national service, gender presentation, philosophy and a host of other elements common to humankind. The recognition of a common humanity is the first step in the celebration of our differences. Differences that inform our cultures, our values, our minds and all our ways of being in the world. Diversity is the chief information of the creative-like force, and the central reality in our understanding and stewardship of it.
Diversity is recognised as an essential binding agent of the interdisciplinary approach to education, as well as to the greater life experience. In an institutional culture where the full circle of human qualities is regarded with respect and where the particular gifts of every community member are dignified by conscious recognition, human beings can thrive. The phrase “think globally, act locally” has inspired our national culture to better understand that the world is a multicultural society, of which we are a part. The systems of the world, its governments, economics, religions and cultures are increasingly interdependent. Therefore, differences become strengths in a collaborative effort. Collaboration is a path to peace. All of this and more makes diversity something to celebrate once a year.
The Lusata cultural festival is an annual gathering for the Mafwe tribe, one of the ethnic groups in the Zambezi Region, formerly the Caprivi Region, in the Republic of Namibia. The festival celebrates traditional values, norms and customs, commemorates the past, and looks forward to the future. It occurs annually in the last week of September. The festival’s name is a reference to the royal mace, an ivory-encrusted stick. The current chief is Chief George Chikandekande Simasiku Mamili VII.
During the festival, the chief, through his spokesperson, advises his people on various issues affecting them and assesses government programmes taking place in his area. The Lusata cultural festival was pioneered by the former Mafwe chief, Richard Temuso Muhinda Mamili V in 1981. The festival commemorates past and present Mafwe heroes. Such a feast day is celebrated at the chief’s headquarters with solemnity and splendour, graced with traditional dances and speeches.
The sons and daughters who gather for the Lusata cultural festival each year in Chinchimane are in essence congratulating themselves on their achievements in politics, education, agriculture and many other fields of human endeavour, as well as the ancestors who lie buried beneath the turf at Linyanti and elsewhere in the region (Matjila, 2006). The profile of the Lusata in its glory, adorned by the elephant on top, the symbol of power and endurance of the Mafwe Traditional Authority, like the Red Indians of NorthAmerica, have totems to indicate their clans or tribes. The elephant is generally referred to as the gentle giant, not given to emotional outbursts of fury. But when provoked, it becomes very dangerous. The letters “MTL” come under the elephant, and stand for the Mafwe Traditional Lusata. The mace is one such instrument of authority which can only be in the hands of a chief, or ruler of the Mafwe tribe. The Mafwe mace is not for tribal authority, but a traditional institution. It is all-inclusive of all Mafwe sub-tribes. The Mafwe ethnic groups remain a multilinguistic community, comprising 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), ba-Yeyi, Lozis and ba-Kwengo or the San. All these groups have been living peacefully under Chief Mamili as per agreement and understanding during the early part of the last century, until some of the Yeyis and
ba-Fwe split and inaugurated their own chiefs in 1992 and 2004, respectively (Lilemba, 2009).
Unity in diversity is the norm in the Mafwe community.
The claws of the leopard carved under the elephant symbolise the power of the chief, whose hands bear terrible weapons for attack and defence. The letters “RMM” stand for Richard Muhinda Mamili, the chief under whose rule the Lusata cultural festival was instituted. The woven tree, or the trunks that intertwine, represent the various groups of the Mafwe, united under one ruler. The Lusata is shafted onto a handle made of hardwood from the forests of the Mafwe area. The hardwood is a solid companion of the Lusata, and symbolises the solid earth upon which all the good things stand, e.g. the people, the flora and the fauna.
Finally, the Lusata annual cultural festival is, therefore, celebrated to foster and achieve a sense of unity in diversity, and to remember the foundation laid down by the chiefs and other fallen heroes (Matjila, 2006).
About the Lusata celebration 2022 and beyond
The Lusata celebration supports and enhances the commitment to be actively involved in addressing the educational, economic, cultural and societal needs of the changing region, nation and the world. The event provides avenues where diverse perspectives, cultures and values are accepted, appreciated and celebrated. The celebration features a wide array of local and beyond borders’ music, electric dancing, delectable food and imaginative crafts. However, it is a good event that accords an opportunity to schools and members of the local community and the region or a country, as they are all invited to join the celebration of culture through art and entertainment.
Celebrating the Lusata post Covid-19
This seeks to promote the celebration of diversity, and provides a great retrospective of the event up to the time before Covid-19. Many of the faces have gone, some have changed, but the spirit of the celebration remains the same. In this view, a strong sense of the celebration will be to celebrate the life lived of the two recent fallen Premiers of the Mafwe Traditional Authority, Sope Dixon Mubita Lusepani and Sope Patrick Tubazie Likukela (May their souls rest in eternal peace).
The Lusata diversity and sustainability
Diversity, when applied in a human context, comprises the inclusion of a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities and groups, races, religious beliefs, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientation and gender identity. The diversity of life is made up not only of the wide realm of human cultures and languages, but also of the diverse world of plants and animal species, habitats and ecosystems.
Therefore, a more sustainable world or community is one in which biological, cultural and linguistic diversity thrive through the strength of the system. It is upon the foundation of this diverse array of ecological and human cultures that a sustaining, resilient world is built.
While the diversity celebration conveys a message of sustainability through diversity, ongoing greening initiatives of the celebration includes support for local businesses, procurement of local food and product packaging minimisation efforts (bulk vs individual). In the final analysis, we are reminded by Maya Angelou, “In diversity, there is beauty and there is strength.” Therefore, as we are approaching the Lusata cultural festival day during the last week of September 2022, let us all embrace peace and harmony. We urge all the Mafwe people and those who will be in attendance to enjoy Lusata 2022 in style and embrace each other’s cultural diversity. Chinchimane is the place to be on the 02nd of October 2022. Peace