With 1.5 people per square kilometer, Namibia has one of the lowest population densities in the world, with 2.2 million people living there. Only approximately 25 percent of Namibians are believed to reside in cities, however this number is undoubtedly rising as more jobless people abandon their communities and farms.
Approximately 60% of Namibia’s population lives in its northern regions, which are less densely inhabited than its southern and coastal regions. The Owambo people are the largest of the (at least) 11 ethnic groups that make up Namibia’s population. Namibia as a nation is still searching for its identity, but each of the country’s ethnic groupings has a rich history and customs of its own. The majority of individuals like to identify as Namibians.
Himba People of Namibia
The Himba are a tribe of pastoral nomads that live in Namibia’s Kaokoland region. In reality, the Himba are descended from a band of Herero herders who fled to the isolated north-west after being driven out by the Nama. The gorgeous Himba ladies are known for their elaborate hairstyles and traditional jewelry because the Himba have kept to their traditions.
In order to shield themselves from the sun and give themselves a deep red color, Himba men and women apply red ochre and fat on their bodies, since they only wear a loin cloth or miniskirt made of goat hide.
The exquisite patterns of the Himba jewelry, which is made of iron or shell, have made it particularly popular with western visitors. Conical-shaped Himba homesteads are fashioned with palm leaves, mud, and cow dung. The family would switch residences many times over the course of a year in search of pasture for the animals. This makes it crucial to refrain from stealing from a Himba hut, even if it seems deserted.
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The Ochre People of the dry river beds
Being successful as a pastoralist in a dry environment requires great abilities and expertise. The Himba are among of the most skilled herders in Africa, and some of them still live in the northern Namib Desert in Angola and Namibia. Their capacity to move about seasonally and their ability to cooperate and coordinate with one another form the basis of their herding method. So it can be claimed that although though the Himba are renowned for being expert herders, their success as pastoralists is not just due to their expertise with cattle, goats, and sheep or even their understanding of the environment. It is based on social connections and the sociocultural structure of those connections.
This idea is nicely made by two well-known Himba proverbs: “Don’t start your farming with cattle, start it with people.” And the possessor of people won’t die. These proverbs, which Heinrich Vedder, a Rhenish missionary, first documented in the early 1900s, continue to be used today and emphasize the interdependence of family members and families. The double-descent tenets guide the structure of Himba civilization. There are just six places in the world where this method of bilinear counting is used via both the mother and the father. Each Himba is born into the patriclan of their father and the matriclan of their mother. Clans are made up of members of independent lineages, meaning that individuals concurrently belong to a patriline and a matriline, each of which serves a unique purpose. The inheritance of tangible riches, including cattle, is governed by a matriline. A boy does not inherit from his father, but from the brother of his mother. The extended family’s residential unit, or patriline, is crucial for both daily living and spiritual well-being.
A Himba lineage head will still start the family’s holy fire on significant events even in this day and age of wage work, western education, and the cash economy so that the ancestors might see the event and perhaps provide the elders advice. The Himba see their ancestors as go-betweens between the Divine Creator and the living rather than as objects of veneration.
This forum encourages effective coordination within and across lineages since all significant decisions are addressed there. This is a perfect illustration of how a seemingly ‘traditional’ ancient practice may serve crucial social and environmental purposes in contemporary society.
Because of their cattle riches and because initiatives like Conservancy Safaris Namibia work to further the economic and cultural empowerment of the tribes who own the enterprise, the Himba have been able to maintain a degree of “tradition.” This gives people the freedom to decide for themselves how they want to live. Of course, traditionalism should not be seen as the antithesis of modernism. Even while valuing their cultural traditions, people might still like certain parts of contemporary life.
People of Namibia: interesting facts
Namibia’s population, which is tiny compared to other African countries, is diverse in terms of cultures, ethnic groupings, and customs. Learn more about the people of Namibia.
Namibia: naturally, a place of safari and untamed nature. While traveling in this state, which combines European influences with ancestors’ African cultures, care should also be given to the human element.
First off, Namibia has one of the lowest densities of population in the whole globe. Even though relatively few white people speak English as their native tongue, it is nevertheless the official language. German, Afrikaans, and Oshivambo are other locally recognized languages. German is mostly spoken in the south of the nation, a holdover from the lengthy history of colonialism.
Do you find Namibia’s people and culture fascinating? Before your journey, make sure to read the following.
African ethnic groups
The majority of the black population, or around 90%, comes from the Bantu ethnic group, which is itself broken into several ethnic groups, including the Ovambo, who dwell in northern Namibia and have a matriarchal system. The Herero, a Bantu group as well, are mostly found in Kaokoland. During German colonialism, there was a terrible Herero insurrection that is known as the biggest slaughter in the nation’s history.
Typically small and with a solid frame, Bantu people. Additionally, there are black people belonging to the Khoisan or Hottentot tribe, the San or Bushmen, hunter-gatherers who were likely Namibia’s initial residents, and the Nama, whose subgroup is known as the Topnaar. Thinner bodies and paler skin distinguish this second group physically. This second category also includes the Damara, who are native to the central areas.
The Himba are a pastoral people who still practice traditional pastoralism in the most remote parts of Kaokoland. They live in houses made of mud and dung and lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle, travelling in search of fresh pastures for their animals. Women wear fat and ocher to conceal their hair and leave their breasts bare.
The white minority in the cities
These are only the major African ethnic groups that dwell there. A relatively tiny, urbanized white minority controls and governs Namibia.
Due to their closeness to Angola, a former Portuguese colony, the white people are mostly of Boer origin, Anglo-Saxon or German descent, with minor amounts of Dutch and even Portuguese. Of course, there are also individuals of mixed ancestry. The names of the cities are of German, Ovambo, and Afrikaans origin due to the diversity of the cultures and ethnographies. German-founded cities like Swakopmund, Windhoek, and Luderitz continue to have distinctively Germanic architecture and Germanic customs.
While the local ethnic groups continue to practice their own faiths and customs, the majority of the city’s residents are Lutheran Christians, with a tiny Muslim minority.