Windhoek - The Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) this week hosted its annual cultural festival, during which students expressed appreciation and the importance of their different cultures.
This year’s cultural event was celebrated under the theme: ‘Celebrating cultural diversity as one’. In his opening address, NUST Vice-Chancellor Professor Tjama Tjivikua said the university has pledged to promote cultural diversity for all students enrolled at the public university.
“Cultural diversity connections are evident everywhere and this shows in the veritable explosion of colour among the various cultural displays that cover food, dress outfits, sports and musical performances and much more. We are very mindful of the value of promoting diversity, when enrolling students or recruiting staff, because we always require new thinking and good connections to elevate our quest to become ‘a world-class University,” he said.
During the festival, students expressed the importance of cultural diversity through dances and traditional cuisines. The Southern Times spoke to some of the students about the meaning of culture and the role of young people play in preserving cultures.
Juno Angula, a final year communication student, who showcased his Oshiwambo culture, described culture as the intrinsic values and moral beliefs that one got from home, the upholding of which guides one for the rest of their lives.
“Culture is a strong part of people's lives. It influences their views, their values, their humour, their hopes, their loyalties and their worries and fears,” he said.
Vetha Dausas said she was honoured to represent the Damara culture during the cultural festival. Dausas exhibited traditional medicine that “was used by our elders to treat all kinds of sicknesses. We do not only want to preserve our culture, but to share it with everyone who is willing to learn about it”, she said.
Jennifer Nghipondoka, who is from Ohangwena region in northern Namibia, said she was happy to represent her Oshiwambo culture.
“I just want to tell the young people of today that it is very important to know where you are coming from. Do not neglect your culture because that is who you are; you should preserve it. Listen to the elders, they will never be here for long to teach you about traditions,” she advised the youth.
“As different people explore culture, it's also important to remember how much we have in common. People see the world very differently, but they know what it is like to wake up in the morning and look forward to the adventures that of the day. We are all human beings. We all love deeply, want to learn, have hopes and dreams, and have experienced pain and fear.”
Public management student Elizabeth Manstanga from the Democratic Republic Congo said: “Culture is not only about how you dress, it is about what you portray. Culture is not about being black or white, it is about preserving and sharing what our ancestors left.
“It’s very important to maintain culture that reminds us that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are today and who we are likely to become. Once we ignore the meaning of our traditions, we are in danger of damaging the underpinning of our identity,” Manstanga explained.