Significance of ekaka and omboga
Petrus Angula Mbenzi - April 2012
Omboga is a type of wild spinach, which grows in a mahangu field or in a field that has remained fallow for years.
The Aawambo rejoice when they see omboga grown so well in a field. They believe that when they have omboga, then they will eat their oshithima with relish.
Omboga drives away the lack of sauce, hayi tidha po omukaga. Different types of oomboga (plural of omboga) grow in the field such as omboga yompungu (spinach made of pedicellaria pentaphylla), omboga yoontaga (spinach made of pumpkin leaves), omboga yomakunde (spinach made of bean leaves), omboga yanakwadhigwa (mashed spinach), omboga yelopa (spinach stew made of pumpkin).
Sometimes omboga may be boiled and stirred with a stick (oludhigo) so that it becomes soft enough to dip a mahangu morsel into when eating.
The Aawambo welcome the dawn of the New Year by throwing a party in honour of omboga. This party is called oshipe shomboga (eating the fresh omboga). The woman picks the leaves in the field, ta mu omboga.
Omboga is cooked in a clay pot at the reception area opposite the wife’s hut, poshinyanga shondjugo). Omusati woods are used to cook omboga, because omusati is a magical tree for luck and good wishes. Omboga is mixed with omundjulu (edible spinach), seseuvium sesuvioides or ekwakwa (kind of plant, chenopodium) to make it tastier.
The householders apply the omboga to their navels. A fresh mopane wood remains on fire whose smoke is inhaled by the householders to symbolise the dawn of the New Year. The housemaster throws a morsel in the west and east directions saying: “Mumvo mukulu za mo omupe e ye mo (Old year go out so that the New Year may come in)”.
When people meet in the New Year or when they meet after they have not seen each other for a long period of time, they say: Twa lile ompungu tu mu mone omboga yanakwadhigwa tu mu tye meho (We have not seen him since we ate the ompungu, we have not seen him since we ate the mushed omboga).”
The husband eats the omboga together with ekala; a piece of the coal from the fire just lit before all members of the family follow suit. The ekala symbolises good luck. The ekala is also used to drive away bad spirits and misfortunes. No one is allowed to eat omboga before the offering to the ancestral spirit is made. Should one break this taboo, it is believed that they will suffer from an incurable stomachache.
Ekaka is a dry v...
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