Ondonga Traditional Authority revives manhood initiation ceremony

Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA) chairperson, John Walenga, led a group of 150 participants ranging from nine to over 70 years old, in a salt collection initiation process over the weekend.

The event occurred at the Etotha Salt Pan, northwest of Etosha National Park in Okatyali Constituency of the Oshana Region.

Walenga told Nampa the initiation ceremony was amongst others aimed at addressing gender-based violence (GBV) and instilling discipline in the participants.

He expressed surprise at the turnout.

“We only expected about 10 people but over 140 participants turned up, which was surprising,” said Walenga.

The OTA chairperson announced that this initiation process will become an annual event held every October. He thanked parents and guardians for entrusting their children to OTA, as the participants were being trained to be OTA representatives in their respective areas.

Angula Ndjembo, OTA senior headman responsible for Traditional, Cultural, Historical, and Heritage Issues, explained that during the initiation, boys were trained to live disciplined lives, abstaining from smoking and drinking.

Participants were equipped with essential supplies such as dried palm tree stalks, sacks, tents, knives, and blankets. The journey commenced on Friday from the Ondonga Palace at Onambango, with participants transported by car to a point near the salt pan. They spent the night there and began their salt collection on Saturday.

The event concluded early Sunday morning when participants returned to their homes. Ileni Nandjato, the king’s assistant on information, expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) for providing game meat and rangers for security during the event.

Nandjato explained that the main activity, salt tapping, is a traditional rite of passage into manhood which is being revived for the new generation.

Lukas Kadenga, a 12-year-old participant from Ontananga, expressed his joy at being part of the process and collecting salt for his family. David Johannes, a 16-year-old from Olukonda, said the process is important in teaching boys how to become a man.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency