Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.B.22

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Namibia has nominated Oshituthi shomagongo, marula fruit festival (No. 01089) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The Oshituthi shomagongo, marula fruit festival is a celebration that lasts two to three days between March and April, uniting the eight Aawambo communities of northern Namibia through the consumption of omagongo, a beverage made from marula fruit. In preparation for the festival, men carve wooden goblets and small serving gourds, and tools from cattle horns to pierce the fruit. Meanwhile, women make the baskets and clay pots used for processing omagongo, gather the ripened fruit with the help of young people, and extract and ferment the juice in clay pots for two to seven days. During the process, they discuss issues that affect them, such as family problems, sing traditional songs, recite poems and share knowledge about basketry and pottery-making. Processing the marula fruits brings old and young people together to share knowledge and skills, which are transmitted informally through observation, active participation and emulation. Once the fermentation process is complete, community members and guests are served omagongo and traditional cuisine. The festival is a relaxed social gathering during which communities and guests socialize, sing and dance, and men recite histories.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List:

R.1:   Transmitted from generation to generation, the Oshituthi shomagongo festival celebrates the new cycle of crop production and related indigenous knowledge, skills, customary practices and oral traditions; through wide inclusion of all community members, each with distinctive roles and responsibilities, it functions as a catalyst of cohesion and mutual respect among Aawambo and the society in general;

R.2:   Aspects of the Oshituthi shomagongo festival that can help increase the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general and awareness of its significance include interaction with nature, appreciation of socio-cultural and economic functions such as the promotion of unity among formerly divided communities, as well as creativity in the usage of natural resources and in designing tools for that purpose;

R.3:   The proposed safeguarding measures demonstrate the substantial role of the communities concerned in their elaboration, along with their involvement in the ongoing safeguarding measures, as well as the commitment of the State Party to secure technical, organizational and material support to the implementation of all planned activities, although greater concreteness concerning the prevention of possible negative consequences of inscription would have been desirable;

R.4:   A number of workshops and consultations were held among communities concerned during the four-year period of preparing the nomination, concluding with their final review of the information presented in the nomination form; a letter of consent has been provided by a traditional leader authorized to represent all eight Aawambo communities;

R.5:   The inclusion of the element in the Tentative National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage for Namibia in 2012 was accomplished by the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture in conformity with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.

  1. Inscribes Oshituthi shomagongo, marula fruit festival on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Invites the State Party to pay particular attention to the element’s viability in the period following inscription in order to secure its sustainability in and for the Aawambo communities.