A delegation from Namibia has visited Zambian capital Lusaka to “collect the spirits” of Namibian freedom fighters who fell during their country’s struggle for independence in the 1980s.
“A ritual to call the spirit of our fallen heroes was performed at the cemetery in Lusaka after the bodies of Putuse Apollus and her team were exhumed,” Leonard Nambahu, Namibian high commissioner to Zambia, told a Thursday press conference.
“The ceremony was performed in-camera in the early hours of Thursday,” he said.
Apollus was a fighter with the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) which was recognized by the U.N. in 1973 as the official representative of the Namibian people.
She died in Zambia in the 1980s.
Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990.
The delegation – which includes a pathologist, several spiritualists and officials from the Namibian National Heritage Authority – arrived in Lusaka on Wednesday.
On Thursday morning, they were escorted to the Lusaka cemetery, where the Namibian freedom fighters had been buried.
Lusaka City Mayor Daniel Chisenga described the spirit-calling ceremony as spectacular.
“This was my first time to see such a ceremony where the spirits of the dead souls are visited,” he said.
“The ceremony was not only sober, but a memorable event too,” he added.
Namibia is the second country to collect the spirits of its fallen heroes who had died earlier in Zambia.
South Africa did the same in 2010.
Roderick Vongo, head of Zambia’s Traditional Healers Association, said the ceremony was part of a culture dominant in several African countries.
“There is nothing strange in what the Namibians have done because in many African countries, especially from our region, there is a belief that the spirit of the deceased lingers on… up to four generations,” Vongo told Anadolu Agency.
“When a person dies, a ritual of naming is performed to relocate his spirit to another person before embarking on a long journey to the divine,” he said. “Until this ceremony is performed, the spirit will remain restless.”
Vongo said that according to this culture when a person dies abroad, his spirit should be brought home, where rituals will be performed to make it rest in peace.
He added that the relatives of the deceased Namibians – in consultation with the Namibian government – had sent spiritualists to retrieve the spirits of their loved ones.
“When the spiritualists arrive at a burial site, rituals are performed by way of magical incantations aimed at calling the spirit,” he said.
Vongo added that when inviting spirits of the deceased, spiritualists often burn certain plants mixed with animal parts.
“When it arrives, it is invited to go home with the spiritualist, where it will be handed over to close relatives,” he said.
“Until then, the spirits will not be said to be at peace.”