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Keeping Africa’s Traditions – The “Epasha” ritual in Namibia

The Cleansing

Oshiwambo culture today. In northern-central Namibia, the Ovakwanyama people still celebrate their traditional ways of life. With the “Epasha”-ceremony the tribe is welcoming twins into the world. First, a spiritual cleansing of father, mother, and the newborns takes place. The couple undressed in front of selected family members. Then, their bodies are cleansed by a traditional healer, an “Onganga”. For this, a special medicine is made from the mopane – or “Omufyaati” – tree. At the end, dried parts of the tree are eaten.

The ceremony lasts a day and is accompanied by a big meal, singing and dancing. Through the influence of Christianity, prayer has become an integrated part of the festivities.

The Ovakwanyama (Oshiwambo culture) are praying a Christian prayer. ©Manon Steiner

The Ovakwanyama (Oshiwambo culture) are praying a Christian prayer. ©Manon Steiner

A Tradition For Kings

For the Ovakwanyama, the birth of twins is a godsend. In the old days, only a man born as a twin or with his feet first could become a tribe’s king. In tradition this is called “Eehamba”. It is hard to tell how long “Epasha” goes back. But due to legend, already the first Oshiwambo kingswere cleansed through this ritual. Their names were Kavongeka, Kapuleko, Heita, or Hautolonde.

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Crazy, adventurous and endlessly curious – Vagabond Manon.

Crazy, adventurous, confused, a tad neurotic and endlessly curious. That’s me, Vagabond Manon.

I am a writer, blogger and self-proclaimed vagabond. Currently I am exploring the world and learning new things every day.

Join me on my quest to figure out life and follow me into the world!

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Discovering Namibia – Spinning the Kids off the Streets

Thousands of small pebbles are catapulted at my bare arms and legs, a cloud of dust engulfs my face. Momentarily, I feel like I’m in a battlefield and there is no place to hide from the attack.

As my view gets clearer, I focus my eyes back to the action right in front of me. A car is racing past, comes to an abrupt halt and starts spinning around its own axe. Suddenly, the driver jumps out, watches his car turn around him and jumps on the hood. A few more circles and he’s back behind the wheel.

Spinning Round and Burning Rubber

We’re at the Otjiwarongo Spin Show in Namibia. Here, tuned cars are drifting and spinning on the gravel, while their drivers are conducting crazy stunts and burning rubber.

According to “Windhoek Spin City’s” organisers Joel Nambahu and Emmanuel “Driver”, spinning  is one of Namibia’s fastest growing sports. In the midst of the roaring crowd, boys and young men of various ages – the youngest is Joel’s 10-year old son – are showing their skills.

Live at Windhoek Spin City in Otjiwarongo with Joel Nambahu's youngest son on the hood, March 2017.

Live at Windhoek Spin City in Otjiwarongo with Joel Nambahu’s youngest son on the hood, March 2017.

Keeping the Kids off the Streets

But this isn’t just about entertainment: “We are trying to keep the kids off the streets”, explains Joel. Before they started their initiative, young boys were taking their cars to the streets illegally, often leading to accidents and injuries.

With “Windhoek Spin City”, Joel and his crew are offering the kids a save environment in which they are teaching them how to spin, drift and perform stunts without harming themselves.

In March 2017, I got the opportunity to witness the results live in the small city of Otjiwarongo, two-hours north of Namibia’s capital Windhoek. Follow me here:

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Discovering Namibia – Detour Johannesburg

Hello, I’m Manon and this is the first part of my story.

Right now, I’m in Namibia, working for an NGO – something I’ve always wanted to do.

On my way there, I stopped in the infamous South African city of “Joburg” for a weekend. Follow me on my journey into the world and into life.