I'm new here, only been here a few days so far, so I thought I'd start a discussion.
We know about Oogway's homeland, the Galapagos Archipelago, as being where he was born, but nothing else. It's never shown, never mentioned, only on the website for the first movie.
Probably no one apart from Oogway fans like myself wonders what the Islands were like, especially during the time of his youth when he still lived there. What was the society like? The culture? The language? Oogway's childhood?
Unless Dreamworks makes a prequel about Oogway, we'll probably never know what the Islands were like during Oogway's time.
One thing we do know. Oogway is about a thousand years old. The Galapagos Islands weren't known by the Europeans that long ago. They've only been known for about 400 years or so. For that matter, there are no indigenous humans of the Galapagos Islands as far as we know(although the Incas briefly visited at some point, leaving behind bowls and similar artifacts, indicating a visit but not permanent settlement).
Therefore, we can't replicate Oogway's culture off a real-life Galapagos native culture because there is none. That would make worldbuilding a fictional one rather difficult.
However, we can research real-world cultures close to the Islands for inspiration, using their languages, religion, and lifestyles as inspiration, creating what an indigenous Galapagos culture might've been like if it really existed.
Most inspiration would come from native South Americans on the west coast of the continent, like the Inca, the Cayapa, and such tribes, as well as Polynesian cultures, since they're in the Pacific Ocean like the Galapagos Islands. The native language could include words from or similar to Quechua, the language of the Incas, as well as Polynesian words.
I'm particularly inspired by Disney's Moana, as it reminds me most of the Galapagos Islands out of all the fictional depictions of primitive or native cultures(real or not) that I've seen. Or perhaps it's just because I love Moana so much. Either way, Moana serves as a great inspiration.
I've been wanting to share this with other KFP fans, so let me know what you think! Share your own ideas, your opinions, whatever you have to say!
Anyways, you've given a good guess on what the society, culture, and language of Oogway's homeland could be, so I'll just say my thoughts on Oogway's childhood.
He probably didn't want to be OR wasn't an heir to a chief like Moana. He wasn't responsible for the well-being of his people, so he didn't have to stay at home and he wasn't forced to explore outside of home (to get more fish or to find new lands for population control). He chose to leave home for a thousand-year journey in self-discovery because he was free to do so.
Off-topic stuff at this point, but connecting time in KFP to time in reality is sometimes confusing. I'm not sure what you're trying to say when you mentioned Oogway being 1000+ years old and the Europeans' 400 year knowledge of the islands.
Even time in KFP itself is already confusing. Is Oogway really 1000 years old (Galapagos tortoises have an average lifespan of 100 years)? Did it really take Oogway 27 years to develop kung fu as a martial art, despite not having another person to test its battle efficiency? Was Kai really present 500 years ago? What are the exact ages of every KFP character? How did Tai Lung travel from Mongolia to the Thousand Mile Bridge in China so fast? And so on.
Knowing what Oogway ate in his childhood might be difficult since animals don't exist and everyone is a vegetarian in the KFP universe. His cultural/religious beliefs, education, and childhood experiences with other tortoise kids are unknown. As you said, without an Oogway prequel, these small-detail questions won't be answered.
Great thoughts. I'm pretty sure fans think more about KFP lore than DreamWorks does or ever bothers to. XD
Such a shame that that's the honest truth, though. The KFP universe really has the potential to be quite expansive, but for some reason, world lore isn't really a priority or concern for the company when making stuff from their properties. I obviously hope something about that changes in the future, but with DreamWorks now being in the hands of larger corporations, we'll be lucky enough to just get the remaining three films Katzenberg referred to.
Cheery, aren't I? :P Lol, I have a lot of frustrations over the franchise, in case you can't tell.