A Cultural Experience at The Sijwa Project

As the world continues to develop, traditions begin to fade around us. Teachings of the environment, ceremonies celebrated for milestones, and religious purposes slowly skip generations in some communities.

Foreign guests and even local Namibians are primarily unaware of the traditions the Zambezi region offers.

The Sijwa Village was built to demonstrate the years of passed-down dances, songs, survival techniques, medical plant uses, and food. Creating this experience brings greater knowledge to the world.

Once entering the Cultural Village, guests of Nambwa Tented Camp are taken to look inside an authentic reed-built hut with straw roofing. Local Sijwa Coordinator “Boysen” explains how the huts are made and the materials obtained.

Food being a significant contributor to the differentiation between cultures around the world, African Monarch Lodges felt it was only fitting to serve guests the local cuisine eaten in the community. Guests are shown how food is traditionally cooked, plated and served by the women for the men. The local dish consists of “pap” (maize meal) and a water lily relish, made from the water lily stems picked on the sides of the Kwando River that flows slowly past Sijwa.

A woman making a basket in northern Namibia at the Sijwa Project

Following the cultural meal, Nambwa guests are shown the different tools and trinkets used to fish, pound maize and help make everyday living in the village easier. During the final demonstration of the “Mokoro” the local boat used on the Zambezi and Kwando rivers, a strange noise can be heard from the hut where the witch doctor resides.

Guests are informed about approaching with care as the witch doctor is viewed as a powerful being that cures illnesses and curses criminals and wrongdoers within the village. With a painted face and subtle noises made with handcrafted instruments, the guests are shown an authentic witch doctor experience.

To conclude the Cultural Village Experience at Sijwa, all members working at Sijwa will perform a story told through vigorous gestured dancing, rhythmic music, and melodic singing. Storytelling in the village remains a much-loved pastime; these are explained in English and then re-enacted.

The stories may include a tale of a mother with her baby traditionally fastened on her back, asking for help from others as she pounds maize and struggles. Alternatively, stories of two men who journey for miles in search of honey; once honey is found at the base of a tree, they must be stung to reap the reward of the sweet gooey gold.

With all this to offer when visiting The Sijwa Project Experience, guests can depart having observed a personal story about a culture that is slowly dying out.

“Ndishaka mwanangu alitute chizo changu, Ndishaka mwihwangu alitute chizo changu, behwa ba mwihwangu ba litute chizo changu.”

Directly translated from one of seven local languages of the Zambezi region “Sifwe” to English.
“I want my children to know my culture, I want my grandchildren to know my culture, and their grandchildren to know my culture.”

Tourist at the Sijwa Project with a basket on her head