Mr and Miss Culture
on Sally in Namibia (Namibia), 06/Oct/2009 10:24, 34 days ago
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Part of the cultural festival was different performances each evening including weddings, dancing and singing. I missed these but on Friday night headed over to the main hall for the Mr and Miss Culture competition. I wasn't sure what to expect– I thought I'd allowed time for African time arriving at 7.45 for a 7.00 start but I was still an hour early! The hall gradually filled, I think probably about 80% of the student population must have been there. I was let in for free and directed to the 'VIP' area – where I sat in splendid isolation for about 5 minutes before going and sitting next to one of the lecturers who was judging.The show was a bit like a beauty parade with different rounds for different styles of dress– casual style, African style, traditional style and then a display of cultural practices. There were four men and four women competing and in each round they processed along the 'catwalk' (dining room tables put together) in true model style. In the first round everyone was dressed pretty muchas I expected until female contestant number 4 appeared topless – nobody seemed to see anything remarkable in this, a very different reaction I'm sure would happen in a room full of 20somethings in the UK!Each round was interspersed with (not very traditional) music performances. My favourite was Fresh Family, I've seen them a few times and they're a fantastic dance group. They really know how to put on a performance and knock the socks of everybody else. The others seemed to be mainly male students rapping along to dubious rap and R&B tracks and grabbing at their crotches. I have to say, in the nicest possible way, I'm glad they have teaching to fall back on!There was a massive long gap between the African style and traditional style rounds when we kept being told the contestants were still getting ready. When they finally came out I realised why– female contestant number 4 had transformed into a himba girl. She looked amazing and everyone was rushing up taking pictures with their mobile phones (except me who didn't have her camera, sorry folks!). When the display of cultural practices came the men demonstrated hunting or milking cows and the girls demonstrated pounding mahangu (maize) and then the himba girl showed making and applying the ochre. Everyone was totally fascinated by her and of course she won the competition to be Miss Culture.It was a really enjoyable evening although I didn't get to bed til 1am! The next day was Mr and Miss OCE (Ongwediva College of Education)– I wasn't able to go but the report I received from Inga, my 7 year old friend, was that people were walking around in their panties (followed my much giggling behind her hand). I guess it was a more western style beauty contest, I'm glad I was at the traditional one.