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1. Description

1.1     Name of coordinator of the grant contract: Prof. Sarala Krishnamurthy

1.2     Name and title of the contact person: Mrs Delia Maasdorp

1.3     Name of beneficiary(ies) and affiliated entity(ies) in the Action: Ovambadja, Ovazemba and San indigenous groups

1.4     Title of the Action: P3ICL

1.5     Contract number: Grant Contract No 393-946

1.6     Start date and end date of the reporting period: 1 February 2018 to November, 2018

1.7     Target country(ies) or region(s): Namibia: Okalongo, Ruacana and Tsumkwe

1.8    Final beneficiaries &/or target groups[1] (if different) (including numbers of women and men): Students of NUST, members of the community,

1.9    Country(ies) in which the activities take place (if different from 1.7): Namibia


2. Assessment of implementation of action activities

UNESCO (2005) argues for the need to recognise linguistic diversity in society as a means to promote cultural diversity, which is necessary for a full realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Namibian Government in general and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture in particular, clearly positions itself to promote unity in diversity, to give all Namibians a sense of identity and pride in their own creative talents, and to improve the quality of life which has a primacy of place. 

The impact of globalisation and information technologies could lead to the possible extinction of or impairment to cultural expressions. Consequent recommendation is needed for relevant actions that will ensure adequate protection and promotion of cultural expressions, identities and subsequently, human rights.

Namibia, despite its scant population, is home to a wide variety of cultures that speak diverse languages, from multiple language families: Indo-European, Bantu, and the several Khoe Khoe families.

Indigenous languages are included in the school syllabus at primary level. From secondary level, English is the medium of instruction. The emphasis on English to the detriment of other local languages has created a situation wherein the indigenous languages are fighting for their very existence. Although speakers of such minority languages have a deep attachment to their cultural identity and history embedded in their language, the language itself proves unsustainable for economic reasons.

P3ICL therefore attempts to bring about a revitalisation of indigenous languages for the preservation of culture through the recording of cultural practices in the local languages, both for preservation and promotion. This action will also lead to a greater understanding between the different cultural groups and promote unity in diversity.


Following are the actions that were taken to start working on the Project:


1. A brand reflecting the main thrust of the project P3ICL was designed and letterheads, business cards, a roll-out banner and laminated posters were printed.


The Technical Advisory Committee was created, consisting of members from the Ministries of Arts, Culture and Education, the Museums Association, the Namibian Scientific Society, UNESCO, Namibia Media Holdings, and the Mother Languages Association.An inception meeting was held on 8 March, 2018 to inform the Technical Advisory Committee of the project and seek their advice with regard to the indigenous languages.The chairperson of the TAC was also selected by unanimous vote from the members present. Mrs Esther Moombula-Goagoses from the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture graciously accepted the chairpersonship.


2. The Technical Advisory Committee was created, consisting of members from the Ministries of Arts, Culture and Education, the Museums Association, the Namibian Scientific Society, UNESCO, Namibia Media Holdings, and the Mother Languages Association.An inception meeting was held on 8 March, 2018 to inform the Technical Advisory Committee of the project and seek their advice with regard to the indigenous languages.The chairperson of the TAC was also selected by unanimous vote from the members present. Mrs Esther Moombula-Goagoses from the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture graciously accepted the chairpersonship.

Prof. Krishnamurthy with some members of the P3ICL Technical Advisory Committee


Technical Advisory Committee chairperson, Mrs Esther Moombula-Goagoses (Source:

Mrs Esther Moombulah-Goagoses

External members (Chair)

Mrs Nehoa Kautondokwa - Museums Association of Namibia

Mr Dickson Kasote - UNESCO

Ms Genory Cloete - National Heritage Council

Ms Beverly Van Wyk - National Heritage Council

Mr Isador Kamati - Namibia Scientific Society

Mrs Nzila Mubusisi - National Museum of Namibia (Ministry of Education Arts and Culture)

Mrs Esther Moombolah Goagose s- NHPC (Ministry of Education Arts and Culture)

Internal members

Prof Sarala Krishnamurthy (Project leader)

Dr Haileleul Zeleke Woldemariam                        

Dr Nkosithando Mpofu                         

Mrs Jeanne Hunter   

Mrs Lizelle Miller

Mrs Renate Husselman                                  

Mr Lazarus Gawazah- Research Assistant

3. Ovambadja sub-group

A second meeting with the TAC was held on 8 May 2018 in which they approved and signed off their letters of commitment which were circulated to them earlier. TAC advised that P3ICL should concentrate on the Ovambadja sub-group of the Oshiwambo people and study the Mbadja dialect, since it was spoken by a minority group of people living in the Okalongo region in Northern Namibia.

4. P3ICL work package leaders and staff

Regular Work package meetings were organised to keep the Work package team leaders informed. Prof Sarala Krishnamurthy chaired these meetings, and the leaders and staff involved were as follows:

Dr Haileleul Woldemariam

Dr Haileleul Woldemariam

Leader Work Package 1

Ms. Sylvia Umana

Ms. Sylvia Umana

Leader Work Package 2

Dr Nkosithando Mpofu

Dr Nkosithando Mpofu

Leader Work Package 3

Ms. Lizelle Miller

Ms. Lizelle Miller

Leader Work Package 4

Ms. Jeanne Hunter

Ms. Jeanne Hunter

Communication and Visibility Plan Coordinator

Mrs. Delia Maasdorp

Mrs. Delia Maasdorp

Project Services Unit

Mr Keamogetsi Joseph Molapong

Mr Keamogetsi Joseph Molapong

Media Specialist

Ms Monica Mundjindi

Ms Monica Mundjindi



NUST FM, which is the radio station at NUST, organised several interviews with the Project leader and the Work package leaders to talk about the P3ICL project. This generated a lot of interest and enthusiasm amongst the NUST student community who enlisted themselves in order to work on the project.

6. Social Media

A Facebook page and Twitter Account was set up to encourage student participation and garner interest in the project.  See the page for information and photos at

7. Web Presence

A website was developed and piloted with all the details of the project as well as the Work packages. The website is being tested and will go live soon.  You can find it at


A group of 35 students from NUST, UNAM and IUM were informed about the project and trained in data collection.  Below: Student data collectors receiving training — at Namibia University of Science and Technology - NUST.

Prof. Woldemariam discussed the data collection process with students from NUST, UNAM and IUM

Prof. Woldemariam discussed the data collection process with students from NUST, UNAM and IUM

9. Meeting Ovambadja community leaders at Okalongo

A team of three staff members from NUST including the  Project leader, Prof. Sarala Krishnamurthy,  Work Package 1 leader,  Dr  Haileleul Woldemariam and the Communication and Visibility Plan Coordinator, Mrs Jeanne Hunter  travelled to Okalongo for 8 eight days  for scoping the region.

10. Ovambadja Wedding Ceremony

P3ICL team met the Regional Council chair who welcomed us with open arms and promised us full support for the project. We also met the Traditional Authority who invited us to launch P3ICL in the North at Ovambadja community of leaders’ meeting that he had called the next day. There were 40 headmen and head women who were very excited to learn about the project and agreed to extend their cooperation. One of the head women also invited us to attend the wedding ceremony of her granddaughter which was a wonderful opportunity for us to witness the rituals first hand, partake of their food and also ask a lot of questions around the traditional ceremony of Olufuko festival which has been abandoned in Namibia, but is celebrated in Angola where  80% of Ovambadja’s can be found. We recorded all the songs and dances during the pre-wedding ceremony.

11. Collection of proverbs, folk tales and fables

The next four days were spent in data collection which was done with the help of 4 of our NUST Ovambadja students.  We travelled to several villages and spoke to the elders in the community. We collected proverbs, folk tales and fables. It was a very interesting and heartening experience. The weather god was also kind to us, because it was cool and pleasant.

Ovambadja students who participated in the play.


12. Cultural Festival

Activity 1.1.2  Cultural Festival

All plans for the Cultural Festival have been finalised. The choreographer for the drama which was enacted during the Cultural Festival has already been appointed as well and given  a contract with very specific outcomes.  Students who were going to take part in the drama had been identified through a process of auditioning. Vendors for the lighting, sound, costumes, etc. were approached for quotations for the Festival. 

NUST follows the Government procurement policy of providing three quotations for each of the items so that they can be approved by Finance and the money released to pay for them. The props, stage setting, etc. were ordered once the play itself is finalised. Mbadja wedding songs were recorded during the trip for data collection and many pictures were  taken of the bride, the bridal costume, etc. to ensure authenticity of the wedding ritual. The choreographer (Sandy Rudd) has also submitted the script of the wedding ritual.

Written & Directed by Sandy Rudd, Assisted by Wilka Angula

The Olufuku of the Ovambadja

13. Visibility Plan

The Communication Visibility Plan was finalised and submitted to EU.

14. Cultural Festival Vendors and Quotes

The vendors for equipment for the Cultural Festival were contacted and quotes received.   

The Olufuko play staged at NUST

15. The play of the wedding ceremonies of the Oshimbadja

The play of the wedding ceremonies of the Oshimbadja people was produced to a packed house during the Cultural Festival on August 12, 2018.  There were more than 500 students who watched the play at NUST and enjoyed the songs and dances in the play as well as the production itself. Sandy Rudd (the Choreographer) produced a play which was thought provoking because of the Olufuko festival which is part of the tradition of the Oshimbadja people. This is an initiation ceremony for girls who have turned 14. While traditionalists believe that it is an important part of the culture and it should be protected, activists and Christians shun it because it is against the Christian religion and it is exploitative of women. They also believe that it can lead to human trafficking of young girls. The debate is still on.

16. Students Distribute and Collect Questionnaires from Oshimbadja elders

Work Package leader 1 organised several Oshimbadja students from UNAM and NUST to do data collection in Windhoek during the mid-term break in September. The students who distributed and collected questionnaires from Oshimbadja elders in Windhoek submitted their documentation to Prof. Haileleul  Woldemariam. 

                                                                                                   Prof. Haileleul Woldemariam informing an audience about the project.



17. Opuwo launch the project in the Himba country

The P3ICL team travelled to Opuwo from 4 to 8 November, 2018 to launch the project in the Himba country. We met elders from 3 royal houses, the Councillor and 2 Cultural Officers were present. Students from the Moreti School performed in front of an audience which consisted of elders from the Himba community, some in their traditional attire and others in Western attire. There were also teachers from the schools, representatives of the Cultural office, members of the Ovazemba community and the public. The launch was a huge success because there were a lot of questions about our choice and methodology. The elders of the community spoke to us and gave us a lot of information about the Otjiherero language and the different dialectical variations. They also talked about the Ovahimba culture and the Obazemba cultures.

Prof. Sarala with our Himba student assistants.

The meeting with the Ovahimba and Ovadhimba leaders and elders.

18. Exploring the Ovazemba culture

We decided to explore the Ovazemba culture and people further in order to take an informed decision about the people and language whom we would investigate. In contrast to the Ovahimba, their traditional wear is very colourful.

The Ovadhimba women entertained us with song and dance.

19. Meeting in village in Ruacana

An elder from the Ovazemba community organised a meeting for us at Ruacana and we travelled to a village in Ruacana where we met 2 members of the Traditional Authority, the Pastor and the regional Council.

20. Ovazemba marginalised and no recognition from government

The Ovazemba pose a peculiar problem. They claim that they belong to the Ovaherero tribe, but have been marginalised by the government who have refused to give them recognition. The Ovazemba are very distinctive from the Ovahimbas, in that they do not cover themselves with the characteristic red ochre which is an integral part of the Ovahimba culture. Also, the jewellery and clothes that the Ovazembas wear are very distinctive. The Ovazemba people are very proud of their culture and language. They are marginalised because even the government has not given them recognition. 

21. Investigate Ovazemba further

The P3ICL team decided to return to Windhoek in order to investigate the Ovazemba people further and also, once again, seek the advice of the Technical Advisory Committee.

22. Technical Advisory Committee Meeting

The Technical Advisory Committee met again on 14 November, 2018. 7 external members, all internal members, an EU representative, a student intern and the secretary were present. There was an extensive discussion about the Ovahimbas and Ovazembas. The TAC advised the team to study the Ovazembas.  The Chairperson of the TAC stated that the Namibian government was intending to give recognition to the Ovazembas and added that our study would surely help them to take an informed decision. The P3ICL team were also advised to consult NIED and include them in the TAC. The next meeting is to take place in June/July, 2019.

23. Log Frame

The Log frame was finalised and submitted to EU with the change from Ovahimba to Ovazemba. Apart from the location of the research setting that has to change from Opuwo to Ruacana, all other elements of the Log frame remain the same. We envisage that our targets will be reached at the end of the Action.

24. Communication and Visibility Plan deliverables

Adhering to the requirements of the Communication and Visibility Plan, we have published 2 reports about the P3ICL project in NUST brief of The Namibian. The Website has been set up in the NUST web page. We have also created a home page on Facebook for the P3ICL project. All pictures of the Okalongo trip as well as the Opuwo trip have been uploaded. The short video-clip of the Olufuko wedding ceremony play has also been uploaded. In the next coming weeks we will again submit pictures and a brief write-up to The Namibian, The Republikein and the Allgemeine Zeitung  newspapers. We missed the presence of the EU Ambassador at the launch of the P3ICL at Opuwo.Further, in the Windhoek Festival the P3ICL project was displayed for 7 days as along as the festival lasted.

25. Display of Project

The students displayed the project at two locations during the year.  The project was displayed at Europe Day on 9 May at the Windhoek Show grounds. The second time the students displayed the project was at the Katutura Arts Centre at an Arts Festival that took place on 29 September 2018. 

Report on the Ovadhimba research in the the Nust Brief of March 2019

Results and Activities


1. Work package 1:

Our TAC members advised us to focus on the Ovambadja community because they were the most endangered amongst the Oshiwambo group of languages.

Since we had indicated in our proposal that we would collect cultural expressions from the Oshiwambo, Ovaherero and Namibian Khoe Khoe, we decided that we would concentrate on one endangered language from each of these language groups every year. The Oshiwambo group is the biggest in Namibia because they constitute 48% of the population, making the Ovambadja the biggest group among the endangered languages. We decided to start with the Mbadja dialect so that we could first of all pilot our research instruments and test them on the ground. Once the results were tabulated, the research instruments could be adjusted for maximum efficiency. If we found that the results were not as we expected and we did not reach our target, we could use the lessons learnt for the other two smaller language groups.

During the presentation to the students about the P3ICL project, there was a lot of interest and enthusiasm to join the project. Even though more than 15 students from the Ovambadja community at NUST were trained, finally only 4 of them turned up for data collection. The main challenge is travelling to the regions. While we took one 4 by 4 bakkie to go to Okalongo, because the students do not receive any transport allowance, we had to transport them from village to village driving sometimes more than 50 km in one direction. A lot of time was spent driving to different villages which could have been cut down if students could have been given a transport allowance. Secondly, the research component of the interviews could not be conducted because in most cases the elders were mainly interested in talking about their lives and community. Since we do not speak the language, we had to rely on our students to urge the elders to focus on questions that we were asking.  In the traditional culture, young people are obliged to listen to the elders, therefore a lot of time was wasted on talk that was not relevant to our study. In some cases, the elders wanted to talk about the history of the Ovambadja and did not want to share any narratives, which became a challenge.

Since it is not viable for us to travel to the north every time, it was decided that the Chief of the Traditional Authority would contact 10 Mbadja speaking teachers and give them a contract for three months so that they can collect data for us. The understanding is that they will only get paid at the end of the 3-month period and only upon submitting all the data that we require of them.


Many proverbs have been collected by the students since this was a relatively easier part of the project. They have been told to translate them and also provide an explanation of the proverbs. We are waiting on the second /third step.

An example of an Oludhimba story that was transcribed and translated during the data collection process.

Co-designing of the output will start in 2019 after looking at what has been collected so far. A meeting had been planned for the co-designing part of the project wherein we will finalise how to go about co-designing the products that we have planned for as Work package 3.

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