Between ‘tribe’ and church: Women’s initiation and the tensions of colonialism
Efundula, ohango or olufuko became fiercely contested when women’s mobility and sexuality evolved into major issues in the altercations between the male triad of missions, colonial administration and Owambo authority. A battle over patriarchal control of women marked the early decades of colonialism in Ovamboland. In northern Namibia, as elsewhere in the colonial world, struggles over the redistribution of power between heterogeneous groups of colonisers and colonised men tended to take the shape of conflicts surrounding the control of women’s labour, mobility, and sexuality (cf. Becker 1995:38—40). These contestations commonly found the colonial administration and male Owambo traditionalists and authorities in the same camp, while they were often at loggerheads with the Christian missions as the third player in the field of colonial sexual and gender politics.