Miss Namibia Chelsi Shikongo recently mesmerised many when she proudly displayed her unique beauty and heritage in photos of herself on social media, wearing a beautifully-crafted neckpiece and an Otjikaiva headpiece made from the Odelela fabric.
Through this representation, Shikongo paid homage to both ovaHerero and ovaWambo ethnic groups from which she hails.
“An interesting fact about me is that my father is omuWambo, with the surname ‘Shidengi’, but my father’s mother is omuHerero, with the surname Ndjavera. My mother is a Shikongo from the ovaKwanyama-speaking people,” she said.
“I am very proud to be an ovaHerero-omuWambo, and to have the opportunity and honour to proudly and honourably represent both my tribes.”
The eye-catching Odelela is used to make a variety of clothing items. There are a few variations of Odelela, where the size (width) and placement of the vertical stripes differ.
Some fabrics have a white base, while others have red as the base colour. The white base can then be dyed pink or red. This cloth is frequently used by ovaWambo. It is said the material originates from one of the Scandinavian countries, who used it as bedlinen in hospitals. The fabric found its way to Namibia through missionaries years back.
‘Otjikaiva’ is primarily worn by ovaHerero women as a symbol of their identity. It is worn with an Ohorokova, a Victorian silhouette dress that ovaHerero women have adapted. It represents the horns of cows, which are the main source of wealth and livelihood for the ovaHerero
Shikongo will represent Namibia on the Miss Universe stage in Israel in December.