Ovaherero debut Biocultural Community Protocol

The Ovaherero people of Kaokoland, spanning Namibia and Angola, launched their first written Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) at Opuwo this week.

The document contains an account of the Ovaherero’s rich history, cultural practices and traditions, marking a significant milestone for the community.

Approximately 200 community members from the Kunene region in Namibia and the Cunene region in Angola celebrated four years of dedicated community engagement.

The BCP not only documents their past but also outlines their vision and addresses current challenges, aiming to protect their traditional knowledge and affirm their rights.

Ovaherero researcher Alphons Koruhama highlighted the significance of seeing the dream of this document come to life.

“It’s a historical moment to be the first indigenous community in Namibia to have developed a BCP.”

BCP custodian committee member from the Ombuku community Motjinduika Mutambo said despite the country being free and independent, communities don’t have a system of governance.

“This document will help us address our challenges and ensure our inclusion,” said Mutambo.

“The Ovaherero have a deep connection to their ancestral land along the Kunene River, a relationship that has endured for over 500 years. The

BCP provides a framework for regulating access to their knowledge and resources,” said Siziwe Mota of International Rivers, a nonprofit, nongovernmental, environmental and human rights organisation.

Youth representative from the Epupa Falls area Uazepa Mbendura said the youth has a lot to learn about their culture.

“This document ensures that our traditions and knowledge will be preserved for future generations,” said Mbendura.

A second event is scheduled to take place in Windhoek later this week, with government officials and civil society organisations expected to attend.

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