||GENERAL TRAVEL INFORMATION ABOUT NAMIBIA
Namibia is a land of exquisite beauty, where a harsh and unforgiving environment has forged a landscape of breathtaking vistas with unusual, and yet abundant wildlife.
The people, proud of their unique heritage, welcome travelers to experience their cultural diversity. Namibia will amaze you with it’s enormous wilderness areas which offer solitude, unforgettable scenery and a place to invigorate your soul.
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PRESIDENT: Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba (born 1935) is the second and current President of Namibia. He won the 2004 presidential election overwhelmingly as the candidate of the South-West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) ruling party, taking office in March 2005.FLAG:The national flag of Namibia was first raised in 1990 after Namibia gained it’s independence from South Africa. The flags colors represent the following: Red - represents Namibia’s most important resource, its people. It refers to their heroism and their determination to build a future of equal opportunity for all; White - refers to peace and unity. Green - symbolizes vegetation and agricultural resources. Blue - represents the clear Namibian sky and the Atlantic Ocean, the country’s precious water resources and rain; and the golden-yellow sun represents life and energy.LANGUAGE:Half of all Namibians speak Oshiwambo as their first language, whereas the most widely understood language is Afrikaans. Among the younger generation, the most widely understood language is English. Although its official language is English, Namibia is a multilingual country as it is illustrated on these examples in English, German, Afrikaans and Oshiwambo. Both Afrikaans and English are used primarily as a second language reserved for public sphere communication, but small first language groups exist throughout the country. While the official language is English, most of the white population speaks either Afrikaans or German, both official languages until 1990 when Namibia became independent. Portuguese is spoken by blacks and whites from Angola.GEOGRAPHY:
At 825,418 km Namibia is the world’s thirty-fourth largest country After Mongolia, Namibia is the least densely populated country in the world (2.5 persons per km²).The Namibian landscape consists generally of five geographical areas, each with characteristic conditions and vegetation with some variation within and overlap between them: the Central Plateau, the Namib Desert, the Escarpment, the Bushveld, and the Kalahari Desert. Although the climate is generally extremely dry, there are a few exceptions. The cold, north-flowing Benguela current accounts for some of the low precipitation.The Central Plateau runs from north to south, bordered by the Skeleton Coast to the northwest, the Namib Desert and its coastal plains to the southwest, the Orange River to the south, and the Kalahari Desert to the east. The Central Plateau is home to the highest point in Namibia at Königstein elevation 2,606 metres . Within the wide, flat Central Plateau is the majority of Namibia’s population and economic activity. Windhoek, the nation’s capital, is located here, as well as most of the arable land. Although arable land accounts for only 1% of Namibia, nearly half of the population is employed in agriculture.The Namib Desert is a broad expanse of hyper-arid gravel plains and dunes that stretches along the entire coastline, which varies in width between 100 to many hundreds of kilometres. Areas within the Namib include the Skeleton Coast and the Kaokoveld in the north and the extensive Namib Sand Sea along the central coast. The sands that make up the sand sea are a consequence of erosional processes that take place within the Orange River valley and areas further to the south. As sand-laden waters drop their suspended loads into the Atlantic, onshore currents deposit them along the shore. The prevailing southwest winds then pick up and redeposit the sand in the form of massive dunes in the widespread sand sea. In areas where the supply of sand is reduced because of the inability of the sand to cross riverbeds, the winds also scour the land to form large gravel plains. In many areas within the Namib Desert, there is little vegetation with the exception of lichens found in the gravel plains, and in dry river beds where plants can access subterranean water.The Great Escarpment swiftly rises to over 2000 meters. Average temperatures and temperature ranges increase as you move further inland from the cold Atlantic waters, while the lingering coastal fogs slowly diminish. Although the area is rocky with poorly developed soils, it is nonetheless significantly more productive than the Namib Desert. As summer winds are forced over the Escarpment, moisture is extracted as precipitation. The water, along with rapidly changing topography, is responsible for the creation of microhabitats which offer a wide range of organisms, many of them endemic. Vegetation along the Escarpment varies in both form and density, with community structure ranging from dense woodlands to more shrubby areas with scattered trees. A number of acacia species are found here, as well as grasses and other shrubby vegetation.The Bushveld is found in northeastern Namibia along the Angolan border and in the Caprivi Strip which is the vestige of a narrow corridor demarcated for the German Empire to access the Zambezi River. The area receives a significantly greater amount of precipitation than the rest of the county, averaging around 400 millimeters per year. Temperatures are also cooler and more moderate, with approximate seasonal variations of between 10°C and 30°C. The area is generally flat and the soils sandy, limiting their ability to retain water. Located adjacent to the Bushveld in north-central Namibia is one of nature’s most spectacular features: the Etosha Pan. For most of the year it is a dry, saline wasteland, but during the wet season, it forms a shallow lake covering more than 6000 square kilometers. The area is ecologically important and vital to the huge numbers of birds and animals from the surrounding savannah that gather in the region as summer drought forces them to the scattered waterholes that ring the pan.The Kalahari Desert is perhaps Namibia’s best known geographical feature. Shared with South Africa and Botswana, it has a variety of localized environments ranging from hyper-arid sandy desert, to areas that seem to defy the common definition of desert. One of these areas, known as the Succulent Karoo, is home to over 5,000 species of plants, nearly half of them endemic; fully one third of the world’s succulents are found in the Karoo.The reason behind this high productivity and endemism may be the relatively stable nature of precipitation. The Karoo apparently does not experience drought on a regular basis, so even though the area is technically desert, regular winter rains provide enough moisture to support the region’s interesting plant community. Another feature of the Kalahari, indeed many parts of Namibia, are Inselbergs, isolated mountains that create microclimates and habitat for organisms not adapted to life in the surrounding desert matrix.Besides the capital city Windhoek in the centre of the country, other important towns are the ports of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, as well as Oshakati and Grootfontein.TIME:Zambia is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, one hour ahead of Central European Time, seven hours ahead of Eastern US time and 10 hours ahead of Western US time.CLIMATE:The cold Benguela current keeps the coast of the Namib Desert cool, damp and free of rain for most of the year, with a thick coastal fog. Inland, rain falls in summer. Summer temperatures are high while the altitude means that nights are cool. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and pleasant.Summer: From October to April. Average interior temperatures range from 20C-34C during the day. Temperatures above 40C are often recorded in the extreme north and south of the countryWinter: From May-September. Temperatures in the interior range from 18C-25C during the day. Below freezing temperatures and ground frost are common at night. Visitors should pack both warm and cold weather clothing for any visit to Namibia.The rainy season: From October-April. The average annual rainfall varies from less than 50mm along the coast to 350mm in the central interior and 700mm in the Caprivi. The sporadic rains do not affect road travel significantly, however, tourists should exercise caution when crossing or camping in riverbeds during the rainy season, as flash foods are a common occurrence.When to visit Namibia: Namibia is an all year round destination. However there are certain seasons for special interest groups to take note of:- Best wildlife months are May to September, minimum rainfall forces the wildlife to the main watering holes, the bushveld is dry i.e. grass is short, trees are not as dense they would be during the rainy months of summer. Please be aware that at night temperatures can drop below freezing so warm clothes are necessary.- Summer is a fantastic time to visit as the desert blooms into life with the slightest hint of rain, although the day time temperature can be uncomfortable hot.CURRENCY:The local currency is the Namibian Dollar. The dollar is the currency of Namibia and the dollar is subdivided into 100 cents. The Namibian Dollar is directly linked to the South African Rand, so South African Rands are also accepted in most shops and markets.Please click here to see the latest exchange rates. The tourism industry, as with much of Africa, works on a US$ pricing system - therefore US$ are widely accepted.As a traveller it is best to carry your money in either small denomination travellers’ cheques (€, US$ or £ Sterling) or cash. Major credit cards have wide use for expenses such as restaurant meals and curio shops in major centers and tourist areas and lodges but may not always be accepted at smaller towns and markets. Small craft traders generally will accept €, ₤, US$ or local cash. Travellers’ cheques can be exchanged at banks in most towns along the route but this will depend on bank hours. Please ensure you have enough cash on you, as traveler’s cheques may not be readily accepted in some of the places you will be visiting. Bear in mind that you will need to carry cash, in small denominations, for curios, drinks and own expense meals as per itinerary and for beverages. (Please note that traveller’s cheques attract a much higher commission than cash exchanged in Namibia)It is important that you ensure that your notes are clean and undamaged, as many banks and exchange bureau will not accept dirty, damaged or torn notes. Please also avoid bringing US$100 notes, as there is a high incident of forged notes around and they may not be accepted. It is not necessary to purchase local currencies before traveling.
TIPPING:Tipping is a commonly accepted practise. In resteraunts and 10% tip is the norm, but more can be offered for good service. Most local guides and tour leaders / guides rely on tipping to supplement their income.
DIALING CODE:To telephone Namibia from another country dial 00 264 …
VISA REQUIRMENTS:Entry / exit requirements: A passport valid for three months beyond the date of entry. Visas are issued at Zambian Embassies and High Commissions and also at all points of entry. Travellers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia.All visitors are required to hold tickets for return or onward travel and sufficient funds for the duration of their stay.Countries whose nationals do not require visas to enter in Namibia:Angola, Macau (SAR), Australia, Malaysia, Austria, Malawi, Belgium, Mozambique, Botswana, New Zealand, Brazil, Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Cuba, Portugal, Denmark, Russian Federation, Finland, Commonwealth of Independent States of the former USSR, France, South Africa, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, Spain, Iceland, Swaziland, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Tanzania, Kenya, United Kingdom of Lesotho, United States of America, Liechtenstein, Zambia, Luxembourg, Zimbabwe.Visas are valid up to three months from date of issue for stays of up to three months from date of entry. Extensions for a further three months are available from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Windhoek.
PLEASE NOTE THAT CHANGES ARE MADE ALMOST ON A DAILY BASIS, PLEASE CONTACT YOU NEAREST ZAMBIA EMBASSY FOR MORE ACCURATE VISA POSTING AND UPDATES. TOURS-ZAMBIA.COM CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR CHANGES IN GOVERNMENT POLICY, SHOULD CHANGES TO THE BELOW OCCUR!
By Air: Flying is the quickest and often the most economical way to travel around the country. Air Namibia (SW) links the major towns in the territory. Planes can also be chartered.
By Road: A tarred road runs from the south through Upington in South Africa to Grünau, where it connects with the tarred road from Cape Town. The trans-Kalahari highway, which was completed in 1998, links Walvis Bay and Windhoek with Gaborone, Botswana and Gauteng, South Africa. The trans-Caprivi highway runs through the Caprivi strip and via Botswana into Zimbabwe.
Bus: Intercape Mainliner runs direct overnight services from Windhoek to Cape Town four times a week, as well as services to Johannesburg via Upington. Other bus services go to Botswana and Zambia.
By Rail: The main rail routes in Namibia are Windhoek-Keetmanshoop-Upington, South Africa, Walvis Bay-Swakopmund-Tsumeb, Windhoek-Tsumeb and Lüderitz-Keetmanshoop. First and second class carriages are available on these routes. Light refreshments are offered on some services. On overnight voyages, seats in first class compartments convert to four couchettes and those in second class to six couchettes. Local passenger and goods trains run daily.Children under two years of age travel free and children aged two to 11 pay half fare. The Desert Express, a luxury train aimed at tourists, runs between Swakopmund and Windhoek. The 19 hour 30 minute journey includes several stops which give travellers the opportunity to watch lions feeding, see the Namib Desert, walk in the sand dunes and admire the stars.
SAFTEY:Namibia is an extremely safe country, and one can safely travel in all parts of the country. Having said that, common sense should be taken in the larger towns as cities. It is not a good idea to walk alone at night in inhabited areas. You should carry some form of identity at all times. It is wise to carry photocopies of your passport, airline ticket, and any documentation that is important to you in the event of loss of theft. Bank account numbers etcand al lost of travel relevant contact telephone numbers. These should be kept in a separate and safe place for the use in the event of an emergency.
NAMIBIAN HISTORY:The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen, Damara, Namaqua, and since about the fourteenth century AD, by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion. The region was not extensively explored by Europeans until the 19th century, when the land came under German control as South West Africa . Bismarck proclaimed Namibia a German protectorate in 1884. The conquest of German South West Africa by South African forces during World War 1 resulted in its subsequent administration by South Africa under a 1920 League of Nations mandate. A war between the occupying South African forces and the SWAPO (South-west Africa People’s Organisation) liberation movement started in 1966.In 1989 the implementation of United Nations Resolution 435 for free and fair elections resulted in SWAPO coming to power. On March 21, 1990. Dr. Sam Nujoma, was instated as the country’s first president. Namibia is ruled by a Multiparty Parliament and has a democratic Constitution that is highly regarded by the international community. The Government’s policy of national reconciliation and unity embraces the concepts of tolerance, respect for differing political views, and racial and ethnic harmony.Namibia is the only country in the world to specifically address conservation and protection of natural resources in their constitution. Article 95 states, “The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting international policies aimed at the following: maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity of Namibia, and utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future.”In 1993, the newly formed government of Namibia received funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) Project.The Ministry of Environment and Tourism with the financial support from organizations such as USAID, Endangered Wildlife Trust, WWF, and Canadian Ambassador’s Fund, together form a Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) support structure. The main goal of this project is promote sustainable natural resource management by giving local communities rights to wildlife management and tourism.PEOPLE AND CUSTOMS:Bushman / SanThe San, a small ethnic group, numbering about 40,000, are more commonly known as Bushmen and comprise of one larger and four smaller groups. The largest group is that of the !Kung, found in Kavango in the northeast and down the eastern side of Namibia to the Gobabis district. They are also found across the border in western Botswana. Bushman A small group of Heikom (//Kx’au//’en) historically roarmed in the are of the Etosha National Park and the surrounding districts to the east. The Khoe, or Mbarakwengo, are the River Bushmen and are found around the eastern perimeter of the Kavango region, spreading into Botswana and western Caprivi. The Naro’ group are found in the area east of Grootfontein and Gobabis and also in Botswana. A very small, near-extinct group, the /Auni, is found in the lower Nossob district. The Bushmen are well proportioned, and have lean and delicate limbs – ideal physical features for endurance running. Most have high cheekbones and are of light complexion. Newborn and young children are especially light in complexion. The Bushmen rely more on the gathering of roots, seeds, nuts and other edible plants than on hunting. They often go without meat for lengthy periods but cannot survive for long without foraging for veld food, as this is also a source of water for them.Caprivi People:The population of the Caprivi, estimated at a little under 100,000 is distributed along the river banks, alongside the major roads of the Caprivi and in and around the main centre Katima Mulilo and the villages of Sibinda, Sangwali, Linyanti, Chinchimane, Bukalo, Ngoma and Isize. There are two main tribal groups, the Fwe in the wet and the Subia in the east. The Fwe include several smaller communities of Yeyi, Totela and Lozi, (Malan, J.S.: Peoples of Namibia) Caprivian The head of each village is the oldest male and will have assumed the position by descent. Groups of villages (wards) are headed up by a senior Headman who is elected. The senior headmen act as local representatives on the tribal council (kuta), which is presided over by the ‘ngamela’ (chief councilor). The ngambela, who is appointed by the tribal head or chief, is the conduit through which communication from the chief to the tribe via the headmen flows in a two-way direction. In addition to hunting and fishing, the Caprivians till the soil, planting maize, millet, beans, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, pumpkins, melons and also sugar cane. They are also gatherers and pastoralists, with well structured usage of the communal grazing areas. Their isolation and remoteness have been responsible for their continued dependence on this traditional subsistence economy. Although polygamous marriages are on the decrease, it is not unusual to encounter some people still clinging to the old tradition of having more than one wife. If a man is wealthy, it follows that he can maintain more wives, have more children and thus have more hands to perform daily chores. The payment of ‘lobola’ by the groom for a wife to legalize the marriage contract is still practiced and is usually in the form of a number of head of cattle. After the marriage and a short stay with the bride’s family, the couple moves to the ward of the husband. They must erect their own living quarters, which, at the start of their married life, consists of one hut for cooking and storing purposes and another as sleeping quarters. Huts are added from time to time as the family increases in size, and may eventually be enclosed within a wide reed fence. The building of huts is a joint venture by men and women. The huts have a basic construction of poles with a lath support on top, which is thatched with grass. Walls are plastered with mud mixed with cow dung, and doors may be of simple construction, sometimes only a few poles tied together or a grass mat hanging from above. As a result of their historical social interaction with Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, the majority of Caprivians learned to speak English. Numbers of the men worked for some time, on mines in Johannesburg and hence learned to speak Fanagalo. This is the only region in Namibia where minimal Afrikaans is spoken.
Caucasian:The first European descendant to take up permanent residence in Namibia is believed to have been Guilliam Visagie, who with his wife had settled at a place called Modderfontein, today known as Keetmanshoop.A number of explorers, ivory and big game hunters, traveled up from the Cape in South Africa and the first missionaries, Abraham and Christian Albrecht, arrived at Warmbad in 1806. The London Missionary Society, having too few candidates to send to southern Africa, was provided with missionaries by the Berlin Missionary Society, and thus the first missionaries to South West Africa were Germans. As more and more information about the country reached the outside world, so the numbers of adventurers, prospectors, traders and explorers increased. When conflict broke out between the Herero and the Nama, soldiers and administrative personnel were brought into the country. Boers from South Africa, some getting away from the Anglo-Boer war in 1899-1902 came into the country. At the end of the Herero wards many of the German soldiers decided to stay in South West Africa. Diamonds were discovered and more Europeans arrived. After the First World War, farms and various other properties were bought by new settlers and the number of European residents grew steadily. The granting to South Africa of a mandate over South West Africa brought in administrative personnel, policemen, railway-men and entrepreneurs who set up businesses. Mining, fishin, farming and light to medium industrial activities mushroomed, bringing in engineers, scientists, teachers, architects, agronomists, surveyors, doctors, nurses and many others, the majority of whom were of European descent.
Damara People:The Damara make up a component of 8.5% of the Namibian nation. The majority live in the northwestern regions of the country but others are found widely across Namibia, where they live and work in towns, on commercial farms, on mines, as well as at the coast.They have no cultural relationship with any of the other tribes anywhere else in Africa. It is Damara Child believed that the Damara left their original abode in northwestern Africa long before other tribes started their migrations to western and southern Africa. They no longer possess their traditions of origin, nor former linguistic and cultural affiliations. In earlier times in Namibia, the Damara people are believed to have been hunter-gatherers, thereafter dominated by and working for the Nama and the Herero. According to Dr. Vedder’s book, “South West Africa in Early Times,” the Bergdamara were regarded by the Nama and Herero as their rightful servants and would mercilessly pursue them when the Damara stole their cattle. The Damara people would then flee in the less hospitable mountainous area around Otavi and further to the West. This gave rise to them being called the “Bergdamara” The Rheinisch Missionarey Society was aware of the plight of the Damara people and petitioned Zeraua, a chief of the Herero, who gave them the area known as Okombahe. Further land allocation took place during 1964 to 1973 during which time 223 farms were bought from white farmers and an area stretching from Sesfontein to the Spitzkoppe became “Damaraland”. Many of the Damara are stock farmers and a large number are employed at Rössing Uranium Mine near Swakopmund. Early missionaries taught the Damara people to grow crops and vegetables and their successful efforts can be seen wherever water availability permits. The development of tourism since 1990 has drawn many Damaras into related activities such as tour guiding and nature conservation. The Damaraland region is well known for its minerals and semi-precious stones and many Damara have turned to small-scale mining, selling their stones along the road.Herero People:The Herero nation moved south into Namibia, it is thought, during the 16th century. According to their oral history they came from an area of much water and grass and many reeds, probably west of Lake Tanganyika, and entered Namibia between the Kunene and Okavango Rivers. There is no certainty however, about the timing or the route followed by those who moved south from Kaokoland into the south western andHerero Women central regions of Namibia. That there was contact with the Bechuana, who in earlier times were in areas northeast of Okahandja, is generally accepted as the time of their arrival in the Okahandja district, which is estimated as about 1790. During the last ten to fifteen years of the 19th century, the Herero settled down in the areas around Okahandja, Waterberg/Okakarara and eastwards, Omaruru and Otjimbingwe. Conflict between the Herero and the Nama caused major problems for both groups and both sides suffered casualties and cattle thieving. This resulted in the German government sending the Schutztruppe (“Protective Force”) to Namibia to quell the conflicts. Subsequent developments brought the Herero into conflict with the Schutztruppe and after a terrible battle at the Waterberg, the Herero were defeated and many of them fled east into Botswana. All land utilized by the Herero was confiscated by the authorities and in 1920 a number of reserves: Ovitoto, Epukiro, Waterberg-East, Aminuis and Otjituuo were created by the SWA Administration, for exclusive use by the surviving few thousands of Herero. The Herero are a very proud people and the observance of their cultural traditions is very important to them. They traditionally practiced ancestral worship but the work of missionaries over the years has considerably reduced these activities in most areas. The ancestral fire, through which they communicated with their ancestors, who in turn communicated with God, called Mukuru, is still kept burning in a number of remote villages. Each year in August, the Herero pay respects to their ancestors buried in Okahandja. The men march in their splendid military uniforms, some copied from the South African Scottish Regiments of the First World War, and the women parade in stately gowns, reminiscent of the Victorian era.Kavango People:This large nation of riverine people has often been described as one of the friendliest in Africa. The Kavango people comprise five distinct tribal groups, of whom nearly all live along the Kavango River from Katwitwe in the west to Bagani in the east. A small number of the Kavango people live in the major drainage area in the south of the Kavango, while some are temporary residents alongside the main road betweenMan rowing Grootfontein and Rundu, where many hand-made goods are offered for sale. The Kavango People practice agriculture on the narrow strip of fertile soil along the Kavango River, from which they harvest large numbers of fish. The men do the hard work of clearing and preparing the lands each year. The women do the planting and weeding and the men take over again to harvest and do the threshing. Maize and millet are supplemented with groundnuts, melons, pumpkins and various other vegetables. Cattle and goats are kept for their milk, meat and hides. Of the various methods of fishing, the most commonly practiced is the use of funnel-shaped fishing baskets which are set in the water and towards which fish are “herded” by people wading in the water. The Kavango men are eager wood carvers and their works are sold all over Namibia. They carve dolfwood (Petrolcarpus angolensis) which grows in the Kalahari sandveld and produce a variety of ceremonial drums, musical instruments and household items. Ornaments, pot-plant stands, wall decorations, masks, kitchen utensils, tables and chairs, dug-out canoes, etc. are standard items. The women weave baskets and make clay pots and ornaments, which they eagerly sell to visitors. A number of new agricultural projects are being undertaken in the region, with a view to increase employment opportunities. These include the growing of sugar cane, man-made forests and grapes. Different families live together in large homesteads protected by either a stockade of poles or a fence made of reeds. However, of late, young married couples are increasingly breaking with tradition, building their huts away from the family groups. Many Kavangos have found employment in towns and on farms, on the mines and in the fishing industry at Lüderitz and Walvis Bay. The main tribes from west to east are the Kwangali, Mbunza, Shambio, Gciriku and Mbukushu. The Mbukushu reside on bothe the Kavango and the Caprivi sides of the Okavango River. There are also small numbers of San living in the region, who regard themselves as “Kavango”.
Nama People:Previously there was differentiation between the local Khoi peoples and those who moved into Namibia from South Africa. Today, however, both are referred to as Nama. There are 15 Nama tribes in Namibia: Rooi nasie, Topnaars, Bondelswarts, Fransmanne, Kopers, Veldskoendraers, GrootDoden, Swartboois, Keetmanshoopers, Bethaniers, Afrikaners, Lamberts, Amraals, Bersebaer and Witboois. Nama Women The Khoi, like the San, are well proportioned and of slender build. Some Topnaar can be found at Sesfontein in Kaokoland, Bondelswarts are in the far south at places like Warmbad, while many are found in the areas around Mariental, Tses, Gibeon, Maltahöhe, Helmeringhausen and east of Lüderitz in the southwestern corner of Namibia. At Vaalgras, Herero prisoners-of-war, when they wer released at the end of the hostilities in the early 1900’s, stayed in the area and mingled with the local Nama. Today they live like the Nama and speak the Nama language.
Owambo People:After Namibia’s independence in 1990, the area previously known as Owamboland was divided into the regions of Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto. The population, estimated at between 700,000 and 750,000 fluctuates remarkably. This is because of the indiscriminate border drawn up by the Portuguese and Germans during colonial rule, which cut through the Kwanyama tribal area, placing some inOwambo Angola and others in Namibia, which results in regular cross-border movement. The main tribes are the Kwanyama (which means eaters of meat), the Ndonga, the Kwambi, the Ngandjera, the Kwaluudhi, the Mbalanthu, the Nkohonkadhi and the Eunda, who are within the tribal area of the Nkolonkadhi. Each has its own dialect but there are only two written languages, namely, OshiNdonga and OshiKwanyama. Their languages are quite similar to the Herero language. The Owambo are agriculturists and cattle breeders. They plant mahango, a type of millet, which is their staple diet and which they very much prefer above maize. Mahangu is used for brewing beer which is commonly enjoyed. Other crops include maize and sorghum, beans, melons and onions. When the floodwaters from Angola fill the low-lying areas (oshonas), fishing becomes and important economic activity and when the waters subside, the cattle graze on the fresh grass. This then leads to the supply of manure for the gardens which are cultivated on the higher ground between the oshonas. Many men seek employment on mines, farms and in factories and commercial enterprises. Exposure to the business environments created by the Europeans triggered an astonishing development of entrepreneurial activity amongst them and trading in goods is feverishly practiced. So keenly did they take up the challenge and so effectively did they manage enterprises (ranging from small mobile outlets, like a basin carried on the head, or bicycles hung with tantalizing wares bought from shops in the towns near their place of work, that they were thought to be the lost tribe of the Israelites. There are very few families today which are not involved in some form of retailing activity. Many very large wholesale and retail enterprises have developed over the years and a number of the businessmen have extended into other areas of Namibia and some have ventured into Angola The social and cultural evolution which has taken place over the past thirty years or so has changed much of the traditional way of life and many of the typical homesteads have made way for more modern suburbs and villages, the old huts being replaced with brick and corrugated iron structures and the agricultural and cattle herding activities moving away to the rural areas. However, many traditional villages exist and demonstrate the orderliness of their social structure. Family groups live in homesteads that are enclosed with wooden pole fences and are designed to facilitate observance of strict social customs and efficient domestic practices.