The heart of Ovamboland

The heart of Ovamboland

01 July 2019 | Tourism

The three towns Ondangwa, Ongwediva and Oshakati are found in a linear formation along the C46 main road, as you come from the direction of Tsumeb and Omuthiya when driving towards Ruacana. These towns are situated within a 40 kilometre radius in the Oshana region and roughly 100 000 people live in these towns and area.

Ondangwa -

end of the Ondonga area

Ondangwa (previously spelt Ondangua) borders onto the Oshikoto Region and was originally established as a mission station by the Finnish Missionary Society (FMS) in 1890. In 1914 it became the local seat of government for what was then termed Ovamboland. The name literally means “the end of the Ondonga area”, with Ondonga being one of the royal houses of Ovamboland. Thus Ondangwa is found on the western boundary of this kingdom and roughly 60 kilometres from the Angolan border in the north

Its population accounts for roughly 20% of the population of the Oshana region. The settlement itself dates back to the 19th century, when it was a trading centre before the missionaries set up their missionary station, with the South African army turning it into one of their major bases before Namibia reached independence. It remains to this day a gateway to the Ohangwena-, Omusati- and Oshana regions as you leave the Oshikoto region.

There is an evident commitment from the council to invest in infrastructural developments making Ondangwa an ideal investment centre for agriculture, manufacturing, small and medium-sized enterprises and tourism - it was just crowned “Namibia's cleanest town of the year” during the recent Namibia Tourism Expo (NTE) held in Windhoek during June 2019.

Tourism attractions such as Olukonda, the first Finnish missionary station, which is now a museum, are located in close proximity. The Omadhiya lakes are found south-west of the town and the landscape extends further into the unspoiled Kalahari Sandveld. The lakes south of Ondangwa have the potential for community-based conservation and tourism developments. The town is ideally located for visitors wishing to explore the history and vibrant culture of the Aawambo people. Visitors can enjoy the sounds and the flavours of a typical market at the open market in Ondjondjo Street. It is a hive of activity as locals come and go to buy traditional fare such as dried mopane worms, omavanda (Owambo spinach), marula oil and a variety of dried wild fruit. Here you will also find Namibia's unique street food “Okapana”, also known as Kapana, which comprises of pieces of beef grilled over the coals and seasoned with a homemade mixture of salt and spices.

One of the best ways to experience the way of life and the culture of the Aawambo is to spend some time at the Ongula Village Homestead Lodge, next to Ongula-Ya-Netanga village. Situated a mere 41km from Ondangwa, guests are accommodated in stylishly decorated thatched rondavels (round African-style dwellings). Guests are able to get an insight into village life by trying their hand at traditional household chores such as pounding mahangu, cooking over an open fire, the intricate craft of basket-weaving and clay-pot making in the onzimbogo (underground pottery chamber). Other activities include cattle herding, fishing in the iishana during the rainy season and extracting juice from the marula when the fruits are in season, while day trips can be undertaken to visit nearby places of interest. Ondangwa not only served as the royal seat of the Aandonga, but its history is inextricably linked to the spread of Christianity in north-central Namibia. The Finnish Mission Society established a mission station at Olukonda, 13km south of Ondangwa in 1889. The mission complex includes the thatched-roof church (built in 1889 and the oldest church building in northern Namibia), the mission house (now a museum) and the historic cemetery. The background and opportunities described her as regards Ondangwa largely applies to its neighbouring towns of Ongwediva and Oshakati as these are essentially people of the same background proudly residing in this general area.

Ongwediva -

were you are entertained

The settlement of Ongwediva was established in the 1960s while Namibia was under South African occupation. It was intended to serve as an exclusive residential area for business people and government employees of Oshakati and Ondangwa. Ongwediva is strategically located along the main traffic road C46 connecting the two towns of Ondangwa and Oshakati. Ongwediva stands out as a town with emerging high quality of life indicators and is situated in an attractive natural surroundings. The town has plenty of open spaces, high quality residential areas and the opportunity to become the centre for the future metropolitan area for Northern Namibia, with its abundant wholesalers and retailers, quite apart from the workshops and service stations, brick-making factories and cloth-making enterprises. Similar to its neighbours here too the visitor can visit a vibrant market formally known as Ongwediva Open Market. It offers cold storage facilities, car washes, playgrounds, trading stalls, braai areas and open space for the wood business, i.e. craft markets. Markets in the north still remain true to character in that they are places where the community meets. Thus it is natural for the market to be surrounded by hair salons and barber shops, as well as tailors, computer and communications outlets, fresh produce traders and traditional restaurants - all accumulated in no apparent order.

The Ongwediva Trade Fair is one of the more notable events that takes place each year and provides businesses and industry with the opportunity to showcase products and services. The Centre's conferences facilities can be rented for business events, graduation ceremonies and weddings, while it features an open space for outdoor activities.

Visitors are offered a truly memorable alternative by “Bennie's Entertainment Park & Lodge”, which caters for conferences and accommodation, but has entertainment facilities far beyond what is normally offered in the north - the tube-waterslide at the pool being assured of your kids' attention (

Oshakati - that which is in-between

With roughly 40 000 residents Oshakati has always been regarded as the capitol of the north since it was officially founded in 1966 as a base of operations by the South African Defence Force (SADF), and it is in fact still the administrative centre of the Oshana Region in modern Namibia.

In the Oshiwambo language Oshakati means “that, which is in between”. The native Kwambi people also refer to it as “Otshakati tsha Nangombe” as it is situated within the Kwambi traditional authority. Oshakati has experienced much development since Namibia achieved independence on March 21, 1990 and has done much to clean up. It is thus no surprise to find local branches of the University of Namibia (UNAM). Furthermore the Oshana Regional Study and Resource Centre (established in September 2014) is a library, that can host up to 600 people, has 220 study spaces, a meeting hall that can accommodate 125 seated people, a video conferencing room and shelving space for up to 35 000 books.

The Dr Frans Aupa Indongo Open Market is a must-be-visit and offers seasonal products, fresh food stalls and various other food stalls. You may acquire fashionable Ovambo-attire and can choose from many different meal-types or simply stick to traditional craft - the choice is near endless. You may even treat yourself to a visit of the tower dedicated to Dr Frans Aupa Indongo, so as to take a look at the surrounding area and get a better impression of where you have been and where you would like to still go.

Oshakati Town Council also hosts the annual Oshakati Totem Expo, which combines the celebration of local traditions with a modern business exhibition and takes place annually for a period of four days in the months of June or July.

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