14 Feb 2014 19:10pm
WINDHOEK, 14 FEB (NAMPA) - President Hifikepunye Pohamba officially handed over the Ombalantu ritual fire stone to its rightful owner, the Ombalantu Traditional Authority, on Friday.
Chief Oswin Mukulu of the Ombalantu Traditional Authority and his delegation travelled from Outapi in the Omusati Region to State House on invitation by the President to receive the 26 centimetre ritual fire stone.
Pohamba commended the Ombalantu Traditional Authority for having taken the initiative to trace and return the ritual stone to Namibia.
This stone is part of our heritage and carries historic significance, not only for the Ombalantu Traditional Authority, but for our country as a whole, he said.
The President said he has no doubt that the stone will serve as a symbol of unity for the Ombalantu community under their traditional authority.
Let us keep on preserving our culture for the benefit of our present and future generations, he noted.
Pohamba explained that the Ombalantu Traditional Authority had been engaged in discussions with the relevant Finnish authorities for the past few years to repatriate the ritual fire stone to Namibia.
Chief Oswin Mukulu wrote a letter to the President in 2012 to ask him for help in having the stone returned. Pohamba then forwarded Chief Mukulus request to the Finnish authorities and received a positive response.
The ritual stone was handed over to the Head of State last November by Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM) Director Seppo Rissanen at the FELM Church in Helsinki during his three-day state visit to Finland.
Chief Mukulu, on behalf of his people, thanked Pohamba.
I want to tell you, comrade President, that this year I am 83 years old and why God decided that I should reach this age is because he wanted me to see the ritual fire stone which has been away for 80 years, returned, he said.
According to the little information available about the stone, it was originally given to Finnish missionary Heikki Saari in 1932. He took it to Finland and donated it to the FELM museum where it was kept until last November.
The ritual fire stone is said to have been used for Ombalantu boys initiation rites, and to sharpen spears.
Prime Minister Hage Geingob; Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila; Information and Communication Minister Joel Kaapanda; Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Minister Charles Namoloh; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President Samuel Gowagoseb; and other senior Government officials were present to witness the handing over of the ritual stone.