A traditional homestead in Africa

Oshiwambo HomesteadThe oshiwambo homestead is set up in five main functional sections. Each of these sections has special meaning and specific function. The roles that each section plays in the homestead is described as follows:1.Oshini In this house you will find a place called oshini where mahangu, sorghum is pounded into brown/white flour/meal for porridge and for brewing tranditional drinks. Marula oil is also extracted using this facility. It is usually the work of women and young girls to pound, but in cases where there are no women in the family, men may also do it.2.Oshoto The next important place in the oshiwambo house is Oshoto whichserves as the reception area for male visitors. It is also a place where fathers sit around the fire with their sons and other extended male family members to educate them on customs, values and cultural norms as it is the responsibility of fathers to ensure that young men are equipped with knowledge and experience on how to look after cattle, produce traditional tools, and respect for other people. It is also a place where male members of the family are served with food.3.ElugoThis is the place where food and drinks are prepared and stored. Only women and girls are allowed to stay and eat at this place. Men may come to this area to deliver something or perform some specific duty that a woman may occasionally ask them to do but Elugo is a woman’s place in oshiwambo homestead. FoodsThe foodstuff that are prepared and kept at Elugo include the following: Mahangu porridge (oshithima), wild spinach (fresh/dry), fish, traditionally prepared chicken, fresh/dry beans, meat, milk, butter, mopani worms and different types of millet. Onzowe (Marula oil) is one of the most popular delicacies enjoyed by the Owambo people. This is a very tasty oil extracted from marura nuts. It is used for cooking or to add special flavour to meals such as oshiwambo chicken, bean sauce and meat.Oontanga oil is extracted from special melon seeds. It is used both for cooking and for cosmetic purposes – skin and hair. The oil is also used as the main base for women’s perfumes by adding to it oshidhe, olukula and okanakamuma to produce a sweet/strong oshiwambo traditional aroma.DrinksOntaku is a nutritious drink made of a mixture of omahangu and sorghum meal. It is a non-alcoholic drink for the whole family. Omalovu – a light alcoholic drink brewed out of sorghum meal.Omagongo –juice extracted from malura fruits – oongongo. The second grade of this juice is called oshinwa which is non-alcoholic and suitable for children.Ombike – a dry gin made out of a combination of palm fruits – oondunga, oonyandi, oombe, oosheshete and oombu.4.Ondjugo Ondjugo is a hut where the wife and her young children sleep. However, at the ages of 15/16 children move out to their own individual huts. Women costumes such as odhelela dresses and animal skins/hides are kept in this hut. Traditional jewellery such as esipa lyondjamba (ivory), oomba (sea shells) omwaanga (special dress made of ostrich egg shells) onyoka necklace (made from sea shells) are also kept in ondjugo. Oshidhe, Olukula, Okanakamuma, Omagadhi goongombe are also the cosmetics and perfumes for Owambo women that can be found in this hut.OondjupaThis is the hut where milk calabashes are kept and milk processed. Butter and cream is processed in this area. In oshiwambo tradition, it is usually the responsibility for men to milk the cows and to process the milk but in cases where there are no men in the family, women can do it. 5.Ehale Ehale is the open area where people – young and adults sit and relux during the day. Entertainment usually takes place in this area.Other places found in the Oshiwambo house are the VIP hut and Oshoto sha Mutyakemo. Oshoto sha Mutyakemo is an exclusive place where the man of the house sits and relaxes without disturbances. It is also a place where he can meet and entertain his best friends. (Cattle and a large field of mahangu are a symbol of wealth to owambo men).

Peter Heinrich's 'Namibian Traditions' - The Namibian

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