• July 22nd, 2019
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The “devil-face” of Christianity and Roman-Dutch law on Olufuko



With the ongoing onslaught about the legal validity and the moral standing of Olufoko first and foremost as a customary practice, need serious public dialogue as well as sufficient intellectual clarity specifically to feed those who are inclined to believe that Africa is a haven of foreign legal systems and a place where religious doctrines are used as competent lens of human morality.

Like other customs in the diversity of African cultures, Olufuko is an African customary practice of Aawambo that marks the transformation of young girls into adulthood using culturally acceptable practices guided by customary laws as inherited from the ancestral laws practiced before colonialism. As a cultural habit in African traditions, inheritance of customs and beliefs is fundamental in the cultural preservation as new generations are born to replace those that gradually have perished. Therefore in the context of customary version of Ancestral law, Olufuko like any other sister practices in Africa are legally valid, and ethical and there is no qualm about its morality.

The legality and morality of Olufuko practice via foreign lenses of the law of Holland; the Roman-Dutch law 
that was introduced in South Africa by one Jan Van Riebeeck as from 1652 as a law of the Cape of Goodhope creates hypocrisy of the highest order in Africa when it comes to legality on cultural practices of this land, the moral compass was twisted to fit the context of the colonizers over the indigenous population of Africa. The colonizing species found it entertaining to change the legality and morality of cultural practices therefore it can safely be said that the version of legal validity and morality of the Roman-Dutch law on 
Olufuko is essentially an ingredient for racism by the colonizing species intentionally made to oppress the 
indigenous human species, control them and rob them of their dignity in terms of their culture and African spirituality.
 Olufuko has been in practice as a rite of passage of young girls into adulthood since the 18thand 19th centuries in Ombaanhu kingdom and it catered for the neighboring kingdoms of Oukwambi,
Ongandjera and Oukwaluudhi. The 2018 research made by the university of Namibia and Outapi Town council help us to find more clarity on Olufuko practice as a custom not only limited to Aawambo people of Namibia but also reflected in other African tribes and sub-tribes; the practice is comparable to “Efundula”
practiced in Oukwanyama Kingdom, “Umemulo” in amaZulu tribe of South Africa and the practice of “dhahara” in Kenya, these are old age customs born of African traditions organized to celebrate the rite of passage of young girls from childhood to adulthood. Some of these practices were banished by religious 
laws of Christianity and were seen as barbaric and backward by the foreign laws of Dutch and Roman origin, in an attempt to restore colonized societies dignity as with regard to their culture, African governments realized the need for the restoration of old customs as a way to give a middle finger to foreign 
customs on ethics and the challenge became that of the difficulty to abolish foreign legal systems which keeps neo-colonialism rolling in Africa today and replacing it with the old original customs to put Africa in an exact position as it were before colonialism.

The Roman-Dutch law as a source of law in Namibia in which various section of the society contextualize the legal validity of Olufuko , the colonial inheritance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 which influenced human rights in the constitution as another source of law in Namibia to which some argued the right of privacy and dignity allegedly committed by Olufuko practice are all inherent of colonialism and 
apartheid racism, which right of dignity is being violated if the colonial laws are the ones busy violating Owambo customs that harbors our dignity? Olufuko preserves dignity in a traditional context, the colonial laws comes in and say the preservation amounts to human rights of dignity, this bring us to the question of 
context and relativity in terms of legality and morality since the two are to be seen different. In any context Legal does not mean moral; and morality is relative; German philosopher Friedrich Nietsche once gave us a good analogy in contemplating on moral relativity that “Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”. By pointing out that Roman-Dutch law is more intelligent 
than customary law of Aawambo or of any other African tribe amount to a hate and direct violation of Aawambo customary laws of Olufuko, customary law though not recognized in the same respect with the Roman-Dutch law 
provides for customary rights to Aawambo to engage in Olufuko as a customary practice, in this context as 
indicated by Activist Desiderius Amutenya in the context of customary law violations “ the customary law of 
Ombaanhu was flagrantly violated to make way for foreign laws” therefore there is a need to look into Ancestral law claims in the same context of ancestral land claim due to genocide and colonialism.

African people and in particular Aawambo in the context of Olufuko were disposed of their customary laws by the 
colonial regime. As with Christianity, the Church’s entitlement to advise society on moral values is very much problematic firstly as a foreign-imposed religious entity, in the words of compatriot Nenkama AgnesShishani; no savior from Israel or any Jew will come save Africa in preserving customary laws on marriage, 
no Jewish carpenter would be interested in preserving Olufuko and other African customs if not ourselves. Africans should believe in their own moral and legal consciousness in order to save their own laws. The legal and moral position of Olufuko does not however change in actual fact due to foreign legality only our 
perceptions will change. Olufuko remains relevant in Africa the same way any customary practice in any part of the world is relevant, what vary is only the context. There is no absolute normality or legality, all these are subject to relativity and therefore we ought to deal with the question of “Relativity” as we continue with this dialogue.

Shivute Kaapanda is a critical theorist from Eyanda village. He can be contacted on iskaapanda@gmail.com


New Era Reporter
2018-11-16 09:56:20 8 months ago

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