Namibia: Finland Returns Ondonga Sacred Stones

The Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, yesterday handed back two fragments of the Ondonga Traditional Authority’s sacred power stones stolen by Finnish missionaries over a century ago.

The fragments were handed over to education, arts and culture minister Anna Nghipodoka at State House, following talks between president Hage Geingob and Niinistö.

“I am here to return something that belongs to you the fragments of the sacred power stones of Ondonga,” Niinistö said, adding that the artifacts were “illegally” taken to Finland.

“Well, time does not correct it, but I and my delegation are going to correct it.”

The handover was also witnessed by a delegation from the Ondonga Traditional Authority, including King Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo.

The fragments are said to come from a meteorite that landed on Earth around 1883-1886, according to the International Museum Council.

The powers of the stones were thought to represent stability and a connection with the spirits of the forefathers.

In the past, the Finnish government also returned other important cultural objects, including the power stone of the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority.

They have also facilitated the return of the sacred ritual stone of the Ombalantu Traditional Authority.

Niinistö, who was on a state visit, said his country is committed to cooperating with Namibia in different areas, including the country’s green hydrogen.

According to Niinistö, several Finnish companies are interested in the green hydrogen Namibia is developing.

He said there are other companies that have an interest in developing wave energy off the Namibian coast.

The Finnish president, who was on his first visit to Namibia, believes wave energy can be a “fruitful source of energy”.

During their discussion, Geingob reaffirmed the long-standing relationship between Namibia and Finland.

He said they also spoke about the country’s ambitious plan to establish a green hydrogen industry.

“We told them about our enormous energy source, we have discovered oil. We talked about the green hydrogen project,” Geingob said.

The president also spoke about Finland’s Africa strategy, which he said aims to diversify and deepen Finland’s relations with African countries, with a focus on political and economic relations.

Geingob expressed Namibia’s desire to strengthen trade and investment relations with Finland.

“It is my hope that the many investment and business opportunities Namibia has to offer, especially in the areas of renewable energy, connectivity and digitalisation, and the blue and green economy, will entice you and your delegation,” Geingob told Niinistö, who was accompanied by a business delegation.

Through the Africa strategy, Finland seeks to double trade with African countries from 2020 to 2030 and increase investment.

Mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo said the oil discoveries are is expected to change the country’s economic landscape.

According to Alweendo, Namibia has begun a green hydrogen project, which presents an opportunity for Finland to participate as an offtaker or co-investor.

The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a centre of excellence in aviation training at Keetmanshoop, and works and transport minister John Mutorwa said negotiations are at an advanced stage.

He said the AiRRhow Centre of Excellence for Civil Aviation will also assist other African countries develop skills in the aviation value chain.

The centre is being established through the Namibian University of Science and Technology and Tampere University in Finland.

On her part, Nghipondoka said the two countries are on track to sign a memorandum of understanding in education.

She said the agreement will cover adult education, pre-primary education, inclusive education and capacity building for vocational subject teachers from Grade 7 to Grade 12.