• May 29th, 2020

The miseducation of society on Olufuko’s legitimacy

Shivute Kaapanda

In the midst of our cultural consciousness, especially in Africa, one is inclined to think there exists a gap in the  understanding of what really constitutes African culture, its importance and the struggle to preserve such cultures in contemporary Africa. 

The major cause of this gap is the signature of apartheid colonialism and racism which were casted upon African people decades ago; as such neocolonialism is constantly sustaining this gap in the spheres of African human species, especially in their systems of though and being. 

Colonialism is a devilish element in the miseducation of African cultures which by extension also creates false consciousness or differently perhaps what W.E.B Du Bois call double consciousness among the human species of African-Americans. Part of this cultural miseducation, which amounts to false consciousness, is the perceived understandings on Olufuko, a festival involving the initiation of young girls into adulthood by customary means of cultural transmission and acceptable laws of African customs that were practiced centuries before colonialism. 

It’s quite disturbing that some sections of society are against Olufuko merely because it does not satisfy the principles of Roman-Dutch laws, which are pro-white and are simply signatures of colonialism in Africa brought in either via the propagation of faith (religion) or the propaganda of African civilisation by Europeans which was marred by apartheid racism. 

Opposed to the Roman-Ducth law rhetoric is the section of the de-colonial thinkers, atheist writers and radical social activists who refused to be bought by the gang of false consciousness but chose to live by knowledge of self, they have chosen the discourse that seeks mental emancipation and not slavery. 
The legality of Olufuko has been questioned right, left and center. Those who choose to serve the law of the cape and ignore their conscience are likely to get drawn into the sea of self-hate and they work to sustain the status quo of the supremacy of foreign legal systems and undermine their own customary lenses of legality and morality on Olufuko.

Namibia is historically a colony of Germans and the English. The rise of Olufuko in an independent Namibia is very much legit despite it being called to legal and moral order with some sections citing sexual abuse, 

human dignity and children’s rights as ingredients of Olufuko’s illegitimacy. Critics, in their desperation, are linking Olufuko practice to the #MeTooMovement in the United States to seek for international intervention on supposed sexual rights abuse of young girls supposedly by Olufuko organiers.
The point here is the lens through which we seek to place Olufuko because Olufuko is not an offspring of Roman-Dutch law, the same way certain principles 
that the Roma-Dutch law prescribes as competent are not born of African customary law which validates 

Therefore by cultural legitimacy, Olufuko is not here to bow down to foreign concepts of law. Surely this is a fight between two laws of different lands. The law of the foreign land reigns socially supreme for now because it is backed by colonialism, racism and apartheid.

In fact the Roman-Dutch law is an offspring of apartheid colonialism and racism which has been used by colonisers to oppress the colonised African human species.
This discourse is a classical representation of the oppressor (Roman-Dutch law) versus the oppressed (African Customs such as Olufuko). The analogy of the #MeeTooMovement is therefore incompatible with the case of Olufuko since it does not arise from two contradictions of law. It is simply a single legal lens issue and it does not arise from the history of African customs. 

To further decolonise on the historical narrative of Namibia’s legal system using Olufuko as a case study, one ought to have learned that despite political expectations of a totally new legal system incorporating elements of customary law and totally disbanding the Roman-Dutch law, the Namibian constitution maintained the law of the territory practiced before independence, which amounts to colonialism in a new era but in the same context.

The impact of the Bill of Rights, democracy and the supremacy of the constitution pushed down the legal validity of customary laws and by extension undermined Olufuko and other customary practices in African countries and make way for the legal monopoly of Roman-Dutch principles. In the wake of critical consciousness, this does not however diminish the chance of Olufuko being absolutely illegal in the eyes of foreign laws. Olufuko’s illegality is only seen in the eyes of the Roma-Dutch law and not in the eyes of customary law. The dignity, the sexual abuse and children’s right claims should not only be seen in the context of one legal system but in different legal systems in order to solve the issue of legal and moral relativity. Those calling it a nipple festival shall never see the light in the 
kingdom of African ancestors because Olufuko is one of the most practiced customs in many African cultures such as the sister practice of “Dhahara” by Kenyan tribes as well as Umemulo” in the Zulu kingdom, which signifies female transition.Similar transition in men is called “Okupita etanda” in Oshiwambo lexicon and some other local tribes in Namibia. These practices are highly celebrated customs in Ovahimba and Ovaherero cultures and they have paved ways for cleansing and teaching young males and females the path to adulthood.  The critics of bare-breast girls is a one-sided media propaganda on Olufuko which is a hypocritical stance of undermining what is culturally perceived as legit, for if bare-breast and public semi-nakedness were an omen than equally all these global and local beauty pageant festivals are equally guilty of public indecency and sexual abuse of women. 
If colonialism was indeed so evil on Africans, how come the foreign colonial legal and religious systems are not?

Staff Reporter
2018-12-07 10:34:41 | 1 years ago

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