Owambo cultural ceremony opens gates to Etosha King Nehale
After a Covid delay of two and a half years, Etosha King Nehale lodge just outside the northern perimeter of Etosha National Park, was finally opened on 09 December 2022 by its developer, Gondwana Collection, in partnership with the Ondonga Traditional Authority on whose land the lodge is situated.
Gondwana Collection’s Brand and Marketing Director, Manfred Goldbeck, said the proceeds of the opening weekend will be donated to the Oompale Trust for the construction of Gondwana House, an abode where the Ondonga king’s guests reside when visiting at his palace at Onambango.
Witnessing the auspicious occasion were King Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo of the Ondonga Traditional Authority, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Hon Pohamba Shifeta, the Chairperson of the Ondonga Traditional Authority, John Walenga, and senior councillors of the authority. Other traditional leaders included Chief Herman Ndilimani Iipumbu of the Uukwambi Traditional Authority and Chief Mathias Kaunashoto Walaula of the Ombadja Traditional Authority.
Themed ‘A Night with the King,’ the Friday evening was dedicated to formalities with salt and pepper lavishly sprinkled by Namibia’s evergreen funny duo, Lazarus Jacobs and Neville Basson.
A very early rise was on the cards for Saturday morning when the homestead fire was lit. This Owambo tradition called Ekulo Lyeelo Nokutemeno Omulilo entails the ceremonial lighting of a fire for a newly-constructed dwelling. Senior Councillor of Ondonga, Shifotoka Nambandja, lit the fire in the boma using dry cow dung and four pieces of tamboti wood (and firelighters) as starters and then placed a large log of a Mopane (Musati) tree on the fire at 05:00.
This was followed by a small outdoors gathering of all the guest, facing east, waiting for the sun to rise, finding encouragement in the saying that early risers catch all the good things.
Next was the unveiling of the plaque by King Nangolo and an address by Minister Shifeta declaring the lodge officially open. Shifeta said Etosha King Nehale lodge is a prime example of how commercial and community needs can meet, generating revenue and protecting the environment.
To date, Gondwana Collection has paid a total of N$1.4 million to the King Nehale Conservancy and N$214,000 to the Ondonga Traditional Authority, while the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism received N$500,000 in park entrance fees for visitors to Gondwana’s waterhole inside Etosha National Park.