Entrances and the blessing of the Main Entrance in Oshiwambo
The Oshiwambo homestead is called egumbo which comes from the verb stem – gumba (to fence).
This can be attributed to the fact the enclosure of homestead was fenced with thorn trees. In some Oshiwambo dialects it is called onghanda. Etymologically, onghanda is a ceremonial baby carrier given to the bride by the bridegroom’s family to indicate that she had been engaged. She carries it to symbolise her readiness to start her own family.
The onghanda symbolises enclosure and protection for a human being hence it has been used as a designate for a dwelling.
The thorns were used as a means of protecting the home dwellers against enemies. The thorns were placed against the poles as an extra protection measure. The fence is called ongandjo. The ongandjo is constructed with large mopane tree poles sharpened into points at the top and was used as a defence against enemies and wild animals. Before poles are planted in the furrows of a new homestead for ongandjo, twigs of omusati (mopane) and omugolo (terminalia) are thrown into the furrows by the hegona (a paternal relative). This is done to ensure that there will be peace and harmony in the homestead. Some leaves of omusati and omugolo are also thrown to the poles of the new dwelling for the same purpose. The beer dregs are poured into the furrows to wish the family the large iigadhi (mahangu storage baskets).
The homestead consists of three entrances: The main entrance (eelo/onhu) which faces the eastern direction to symbolise prosperity and good luck in Ondonga. It is believed that the Aakwampungu (ancestors) from the east bless the people are source of fortune while the Aakwampungu from the West bring bad luck. The sun rises in the east and it brings good atmosphere.
Traditionally, people who fall sick are taken to the east to be cured of their ailments. The origin of the Aawambo also lies in the east. But entrance of homestead in Uukwambi, Uukwaluudhi, Ongandjera, Ombalantu and Uukolonkadhi is situated on the western side. The reason why this direction is chosen for the entrance cannot clearly be established. Every commoner has to enter the house through the onhu. Traditionally, the main entrance is sealed with the omunkono tree especially at night. But some people tend to seal their entrances with poles. When one enters the homestead, one pole or two, depending on the size, is lifted and put back. Such an entran...
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