This weekend, the Nampower Convention Center was filled will people dressed in what they felt represented royalty which was the theme of the Simply You Magazine Lifestyle and Fashion Awards (SYMLAFA).
One particular outfit that caught the attention of many was of Ubuntu Model Virginia Beauty who wore a black sleeveless number with an Otijikaiva headpiece. According to Namibian tweeps, Virginia Beauty disrespected the headpiece for wearing it with a black dress.
The Otjiherero speaking model caught up in the controversy says she opted for her outfit to make a statement that certain elements of culture should remain static and that people should be mindful of how culture is evolving.
“There are elements of culture that should remain static for example respect towards the elders and then there are parts that should not like me wearing otjikaiva with a normal dress. Culture is dynamic and complex and keeps evolving,” she says.
Speaking on the backlash she is getting, the model says they should not as we live in a digital era which allows easy access to search on the internet for answers when it comes to everything.
“People would want the future generation wearing the otjikaiva how it is currently worn but we live in a digital age and the future generation will be more privileged as they have the option of using google to see how the Ovaherero people have evolved in clothing. This made me think of how my ancestors who wore like the Ovahimba felt when portions of people began to wear the german Victorian-inspired dresses,” she said.
Virginia who refers to herself as a trendsetter she is aware of the Ovaherero people history and that is why she wore Otjikaiva and was the only one who wore it at on Saturday in efforts to protests against what the Germans did to her ancestors.
“I know my history. My whole look is a protest against the Germans who butchered and almost exterminated the entire tribe. I went to the awards and I was the only person with otjikaiva on and how are we going to keep protesting? We should all find means and spaces of reminding the world what happened to one of the first forgotten genocides of the 20th century,” she concluded.
Last year, a similar debate emerged on whether it is appropriate or not when designer and model Leah Misika wore an otjikaiva headpiece with without the full dress.