Meaning of some places in Oshiwambo (Part 3)

By Petrus Angula Mbenzi
November 2013



In the Oshikoto region there is a parish, school and constituency called Olukonda. Olukondawas a mission station for the Finish missionary since 1874.  (Peltola, 2002)  The name consists of the diminutive prefix of class-11 olu- and the stem- konda(to cross).  Two theories existed on the etymology of the name Olukonda


One theory is that when Finnish missionary arrived in this place, they did not cross over to the other places as they found this place more suitable for settlement they thus constructed their tents there and converted these tents into buildings which served as mission station.  This semantic information raises more questions than answers because the place was not named after the arrival of the missionaries.


The other theory which is more valid is that in the southern Ondonga there were cattle posts but there was a shortage of water especially in spring. The herdsmen drove their cattle some miles away in search of water but they did not cross Olukondabecause there were omithima(water wells) that held water for a long time. The stem –kondameans to cross.


Ondongais the area occupied by the Aandonga.  As provided earlier the Aawambo arrived in the present Owambo in 1550.  When they arrived at the Omumborombongo tree, they said: Ndongo opo mpaka itatu humu ko we(until here we will not move any further).  The place was originally called Ondongo(till here) but was corrupted presumably through mishearing and became Ondonga.


Another place in Owambo is known as Uukwanyama.  The place name consists of the prefix uu– This is the prefix which often has to do with the four directions in Oshiwambo which commence with this prefix -uu such as Uuzilo(east), Uumbugantu(south), Uumbangalantu  sometimes referred to as Uukwanyamantuand Uuninginino(west).  The morpheme kwa– has a genitive function in Oshiwambo.  The stem – nyamameans meat.  When the Aawambo lived in Ondonga, one group of people used go hunting wild animals for meat.  They used to go hunting and returning to Ondonga.  But the desire for meat grew among the group thus it split from the main group and settled in another area.  Those who remained referred to the deserted group as aakwawo yonyama(the relatives of onyama(meat).  The name was later on contracted and became Aakwanyama and their area was called Uukwanyama. (The area of meat hunters)


The other group of Aawambo was interested in pot making.  It moved to the place where there was suitable clay soil for making pots.  The place is lined with the water pans.  They were thus referred to as Aakwawo yombiga or Aakwambigathrough contraction.  The name was shortened further and became Aakwambi and their place name is derived from their ethnonym and it is called Uukwambi(place of the pot makers).


Splitting away from the main group continued as one group which was interested in ironsmith ship deserted and settled in the place which was originally occupied by the Bushmen. The Bushmen were good at forging irons.  The group used to give them metals so that the Bushmen could make knives and hand-hoes etc, for them.  Because of this practice, the group was referred to as Aagandji yiiyela (the giver of irons/metals). The name was later on shortened to Aangandjera.  The -l-sound is not present in the Oshingandjera dialect hence the use of r instead of l.  Their place is thus called Ongandjera(the place of iron givers).


There was a group of people who regarded themselves as people of the same kind because they resembled one another in several ways.  These people wandered away and settled in the far western Owambo.  They were named Aakwaluudhi(people from the same kind), their place is called Uukwaluudhiwhich consists of Uu– prefix, kwa– possessive concord, -luudhia stem which means kind.  It comes from the noun oludhi(kind/related group). 


Some people from this group used to dig wells to scoop water from.  In making wells one does make steps leading to the site where collects.  The steps they made were not properly prepared and were referred to as iikolo yoshikulukadhi(the steps of womanliness).  The makers of the steps were called Aakolonkadhi(maker of womanly steps).  In Oshiwambo anything which is not done properly is associated with women.  The place of this people is called Uukolonkadhi(place of maker of womanly steps).  Another group consisted of haughty people who looked down on other people.


They considered themselves Aambala(royal people) and moved to another place.  Due to their haughtness and disdainful attitude they were named Aambalantu(royal people).  This is a compound word which consists of Aambala(people of ombala(palace/royal house) and aantu(people).


Elakalapwameans the message is accomplished.  It is the name of a school, village in the Ongenga Constituency situated in the Ohangwena region. The headman of this village was autocratic.  During tribal hearing his decision was never overruled when he decided on the fine to be paid by the culprit. No review of cases was allowed.  He just said Elaka ola pwa(the decision is final) Oto futu ngoo nee(you just pay the fine).  The Elakalapwathen became the name of the place in which the headman resided.PF