The spirit and my father’s house

By John Walenga
December2010/January 2011
Just a Call
BEFORE the arrival of some uninvited guests, there were no incidents of mistaken identity in the village. Unfortunately, all that was rearranged by the visitors.

Apparently they had difficulties pronouncing the villagers’ names. Etotha became Etosha, Otjomuise became Windhoek, and Nghishidimbua became Gebhard. Unwittingly, that signalled the beginning of villagers living a double life and they have never recovered from that.

It was easy then for the villagers to identify each other once one introduced themselves as Nghishidimbua shaWalenga, for example. It was enough to know each other’s genes without sending blood to the laboratory. That was their version of a DNA test.

Today’s villagers are even difficult to deal with in terms of establishing identity. No wonder in some villages the greeting takes longer. The whole exercise is done because there are so many Gebhards out there who are not related in anyway. They only have one thing in common: Christianity.

Growing up, The Villager never saw his departed father go to church. However, as they say the measure of a man is not how you started, but how you end. A week before he passed on, he received Holy Communion at Onguta Parish Church.

Yet, whenever a dark cloud visited the family, all sermons or rituals (as you might want to call them) were normally held at home as is the case today.

The graveyard is just a stone’s throw away from the house as it has been a tradition in many of the villages.

Ghishindimbua: The Second Life

Whenever The Villager’s father was overwhelmed by any anxiety - sadness or joy, he had a way of calling on his father’s name. Whenever there was a feast in the family, Ghishindimbua would excitedly chant saying: Shakwayeke penduka wu taale! (My ancestors arise to join me in celebration).

Equally, when he was angered by a person, or something he would call, “omwa fa kaamu shi ndje? Ongame Nghishidimbwa shaWalenga omumati wokooShipolo sha Nangula. Hamunhu we mu londeke oha dipaa eengombe daye nodavakwa wo”.

Whenever he went into that mode, everybody knew what time of the day it was. You could even compose a song out of the old man’s footsteps. The Villager came to learn later in his life that this is done to summon the spirit for strength and guidance. That is the second life of The Villager’s father.

The truth is: omukuku iha gu hokwa ongoma (You cannot pass wisdom to your father.) The Villager models his life on his father’s. Thus, he also lives a double life.

The Villager can be pushed into every corner, but the moment he passed it on to Nangombe Dha Ndadala, no one will understand him. He fears no one. He has a great respect for people. However, once respect is lost, nothing is left.

No visitor can ever appreciate the second life of any villager. The Villager contends that visitors can only live the theoretical aspect of a second phase of a villager. The practical side is more intimate as it can be. The second phase of any villager, irrespective of their station in life, is moulded into the saying:konima yomayale iha ku zi omagadhi (You can’t cry over spilled milk.)

In the village, every child grows up knowing that whenever you hit someone during a fight and that person calls on his mother, “memee!” that popular desperate wail, it’s a sign of defeat. If you continue to beat such a hopeless person, the community shall retaliate accordingly. Thus it was a taboo to hear people being butchered in the village. The safest people in the village were always women.

But the moment you hit someone and they call on “tate!” (father) or meme! (mother) three times, then its game on, or else one has to run for cover. In the same breath, when villagers quarrel among themselves and another remarks that na nyoko ngaa kaa ndi mu shi, (I swear to your mother I don’t know) or nameme ngaa (I swear to my mother).

Either way, it’s a signal that gloves are off.

Summoning the spirits has no age restriction. A villager can be in his oomvula dhomutoko (twilight), and still call on his father. That’s why in the village omulumentu iha si. Ano omulumentu ekuya lya he, a man is supposed to be a representative of his father for as long as he lives.

How did villagers lose such good traditional norms? The Villager argues that it is time for villagers to go back to the drawing board and tap from what is theirs. Clearly, today’s villagers are no wiser than their ancestors despite all the information at their finger tips.

The point is: if the visitors will never be in a position to internalize a villager summoning their spirit? Can a villager be in a position to truly internalize the visitor’s spirit? Jesus of Nazareth puts it aptly: “I am in my father’s house”. And a villager echoed by saying: “ngame ondi li mwaandhi dha Tate”. Is it really necessarily to be judgmental as to who is right or wrong between the two? You decide.

In the village, you find Jews who practice Judaism as their religion and Moslems who practice Islam. The Holy book of the Jews is the Old Testament. Little wonder then that there is no mention of Jesus in the same. Jesus only features in the Gospels of the New Testament whereas Moslems read the Holy Koran (the content is said to have been dictated to Mohammed by God directly). The one stricking thing about Islam is that there is only one version of the Holy Koran.

The Holy Bible was written between 1400 and 1800 and Christianity became an influential force when Constantine the Great became the Emperor of Rome. That was after 300 years as an underground movement. He adopted Christianity as his religion. You know how it goes: ngu a hokana nyoko oye ngaa ho (Whoever marries your mother becomes your father). Millions of people were killed for all these three main religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) to come about. Whether the carnage in the name of the same has stopped or not, The Villager relies upon your creative thinking.

The Villager is told that once you get a chance to visit the hood of Jerusalem, never shout a name of a person walking across the street unless you are dead sure. Otherwise any mistaken identity could be your last breath. That will be the day when your loved ones will know that the Promised Land only exists in the bible. That village is for those who live there.

So what’s the fuss? Look, Iilongo yaantu iha yi likolwa omatanga (You cannot claim what’s not yours). There are only two main characters of a Jew. Your mother must be a Jew and owu na okukenkwa (you must be circumcised) on day eighth day of your birth.

Other than that until the last time The Villager checked, you can never be classified as a Jew. Thus imposing yourself on Judaism is living in the fools’ paradise, unlike Islam and Christianity.

One can go through their youthful life as a Moslem and switch to Christianity moomvula dhomutoko (in your twilight years).

The Villager is told that the objective is one: serving God with the destination of heaven in mind. If that’s true, then all villagers have failed their fellow villagers who remarked that iikumbakumba yonkoshi ihayi imbi ongolo okunapa (the loudest is not the cleverest in the room).

And today’s villagers are continuing the legacy without questioning despite all the evidence at hand. Try to ask the next person as to where all the ancestors who passed on before the visitors reached the village went. The Villager is certain that the answer is always tailor-made.

Let villagers just agree to disagree that what you believe in is what shall save you. The Villager believes in his own experience and practice than theory. Either way, have a blast of a festive season. PF