Aawambo clans and their totems

By Shivute Kaapanda [Think Tank Africa]

The longest and most powerful tool of identification among the Aawambo people which has been relevant in identifying the maternal lineage of individuals in very profound ways taking us back to the days when the modern system of national identification was never dreamed of, is the identification of oneself by their clan and totem.

The following is a list of some of the most prominent Aawambo clans and their totems in present day Namibia and Angola: Aatundu/Aakwaluvala (Zebra), Aakuusinda/Aakwaanyoka (Snake), Aakwamandjila/Aakwamalanga (Elephant), Aakwanangobe/Aakwamwenyo (Cow), Aakwanekamba/Aakwanamakunde (Hyena), Akwambahu/Aakwahepo (Locust), Aakwanambwa/Aakwanghwiyo (Dog), Aakwanamatsi/Aakwanahungi (Calabash) and Aakwanambuba/Aakwaniilya (Millet).

It’s therefore important for all Aawambo people especially the youth who are mostly ignorant to have a concrete knowledge of their clans and totems.

The Aawambo youth of today rarely participate in the affairs of their traditional authorities due to their lack of knowledge of self which includes lack of indigenous knowledge on traditional matters.

In rural areas the traditional affairs and leadership is often left to the elderly because the young of today in Owambo are more interested in alcohol, cars, dating and clothes rather than learning traditional knowledge which is often acquired at traditional courts and other customary gatherings.

Given that most knowledge of tradition is documented in the minds of elders in the villages and is mostly passed on orally is often challenging for some alcohol-addicted youths in Owambo to collect such information and record it in writing.

It’s therefore a call on all Oshiwambo speaking youth to learn traditional knowledge so that they will increase their knowledge of self and be able to identify themselves correctly and appropriately and as a result articulate themselves on matters of their traditional leadership, cultures – and their future wellbeing.

You can only know your future if you know your past and you know who you are.

As youths of Owambo we need to inherit the indigenous knowledge from our elders so that we can pass it on to the next generations of traditional leaders.

– Shivute Kaapanda is an activist writer and philosopher from Eyanda village in Omusati Region. He is a columnist and author of the book called “The Conscious Republic”.