Cultural interactions are vital according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). During these authentic connections with members of a different cultural group you get a unique opportunity to experience, learn, discover and consume the tangible as well as intangible apparatuses of one another’s cultures. Moreover, it leads to attaining a sense of honour and it allows for people to embrace diversity.
In accordance to the above, recently during a visit to the conservancies in north-eastern Namibia, we had an opportunity to visit the Mbunza Living Museum.
Here are a few reasons why this sojourn was culturally enriching:
The museum is set close to Samsitu Lake and is 15.3 kilometres away from Rundu via the B18 road, in the Kavango East Region. Upon arrival at the museum the guide, Sebron warmly welcomed us outside and elaborated on the aim of the living museum, whereby he mentioned that it is an interactive experience of the Mbunza culture pre-modernity, and furthermore it is a way to preserve the culture, whilst simultaneously aiding to economic independence for the local community. Lastly, it is aligned to community-based tourism.
As we swiftly made our way through the entrance, the guide emphasised the layout of a typical homestead, whereby elders set their huts on the one side, and young women and men are on the opposite side of the homestead, which is usually for protection purposes.
The first interaction was about how their traditional attire is made, which is tanned leather that is refined with Mangetti nut oil. The tour further led to the preparation of fibre, which are used to beautify the hair of the women, as well as used as threads for the traditional dancing skirts.
Continuing along the passageway of the homestead, we observed the making of clay craft items, which are later heated at the fire place to stabilise the craft items and also to avoid breakage thereof. These crafts items are then sold in the craft shop located at the entrance of the living museum.
As we moved on to the details regarding hunting, there are two musical instruments used by men to draw animals closer. The mouth-bows, which similarly are used like a violin bow along with thumb piano, sisandi.
Thereafter the guide led us to the essentials of reed mat making for men, because he would need to prepare one for his in-laws to showcase his skills, as well as another one for himself and the wife. In addition, the wife would need to be able to weave a basket to equally showcase her skills too.
A few other elements that are highlighted during this experience is the cracking of Mangetti nuts, pounding of mahangu, blacksmith techniques, plants used for health purposes and they ended off with various dance renditions used for several occasions.
Should you wish to visit this living museum, please see information below.
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday | 08:00 - 17:00
Entrance rates: N$ 200.00 per person
Contact for bookings: +264 81 215 2496
Author – I’m Ndinelao Shikemeni, from Ongha, Namibia. I am intrigued by academic research, writing and photography.