Local traditions and culture in Namibia

  • Venceremos
    Venceremos
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    by krissyM
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    by DAO

Most Viewed Local Customs in Namibia

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    Traditional Herero Dress among native women

    by 850prc Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Many traditional modes of dress have all but disappeared in Namibia. But, the Herero dress is still worn proudly by women in the Herero tribe(s). These dresses are generally hand-made by the Herero women, and are an important part of a young lady's "coming of age". It is considered a privilege to be allowed to put on and wear the Herero dress.

    The hat is supposed to symbolize the horns of the cape buffalo, one of the mightiest animals of southern Africa. The sleeves are designed to billow like an elephant's trunk.

    Although you sometimes see this type of dress made out of multi-colored cloth, we were told that true Herero dress is made from a single type and color of cloth. We were told that the Herero consider the patchwork types found in other parts of Namibia to be the equivalent of "hobo garb".

    Most Herero men seldom wear ceremonial or tribal dress, as their jobs force them to behave in a "western manner". However, the women maintain the tradition, both encouraged and expected to by their menfolk. As it was pointed out many times, southern Africa is still very much a society defined by men.

    A Herero lady named

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    Mopane Worms - a delicious treat!

    by krissyM Written Jun 17, 2010

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    Dried mopane worms can be eaten raw as a crisp snack. Mopane worms can also be soaked to rehydrate, before frying until crunchy or cooking with onion, tomatoes and spices and serving with sadza. The flesh is yellow, and the gut may still contain fragments of dried leaf, which is not harmful to humans. I didn't personally eat one but I was told that they are very salty!

    Locals are selling them on the side of the road all over Namibia. You can buy a newspaper cone of them on the side of the road for about N$6

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    SHUT THE GATE BEHIND YOU!

    by DAO Updated Jul 31, 2008

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    Many campsites, motels and holiday ranches have big metal gates you must open before you can drive your car though. Please always shut and latch them behind you. They not only keep livestock and wild animals in – they keep them out. One of the places they keep them out of is the road you were just driving down. It also helps keep down the spread of Foot & Mouth Disease. Also remember to make sure the gate won’t swing back and hit your car as you drive through!

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    THE CONSIDERATE HERDSMAN

    by DAO Updated Jul 31, 2008

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    See all the cows on the side of the road? Yep, they would be a real danger, day or night, for drivers. Except in this case they are being managed quite well by a good herdsman. That’s the guy holding the red flag to wave at YOU to slow down so he can cross the road sometimes. His cows are contained at night and are not a danger to road users. Nice man.

    The biggest question I have is whether the Red Flag he has is a smart choice if he has any bulls. They may take this flag waving to mean “Go ahead and gore me!”

    By the way there are the inconsiderate cow owners who help spread foot & mouth disease, cause carnage on the roads and generally wonder where their cows are. Idiots.

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    DISEASE CONTROL POINTS

    by DAO Updated Jul 31, 2008

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    If you are driving across the sometimes barren interior of Namibia, you will come across checkpoints with gates across the road. They are Veterinary Disease Checkpoints. They were put in place to prevent the transport of livestock that have (or could have) Foot & Mouth Disease. You have to stop and check in. Some say Police checkpoint, but are usually manned by other government workers. Just be polite and friendly and you will soon be on your way. The gates to the Skelton Coast Park double as such a checkpoint.

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    THE SUNDOWNER

    by DAO Written Jun 22, 2008

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    A Sundowner is a delightful expression used across Southern Africa to describe having and adult beverage at sun down. Of course it can be any time, but the best time to do so is at sunset watching a beautiful African sky. This can be enjoyed anywhere. All you need is: You, a few friends (optional but preferred), a drink and nature.

    Please have a look at some sundowner pictures taken here.

    Enjoy!

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    ENGLISH IS THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

    by DAO Updated Apr 27, 2008

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    An amazing fact that I did not know until I want inside the National Museum of Namibia in Windhoek. Despite its history as a German Colony, the official language of government and the legal system is English. This is enshrined in Article 3 of the Preamble of the Constitution (pictured). People are, of course, allowed to practice any language they wish in Namibia. German and Afrikaans is still widely spoken and more than 20 tribal languages still thrive here.

    If you would like to know more about the exciting exhibits at the National Museum of Namibia, please see my ‘Things to Do’ tips on this page.

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    SKELETON COAST

    by DAO Updated Jan 13, 2008

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    Why do they call it the Skeleton Coast? The vast majority of the Namibian coast is a graveyard of animals and sailors over hundreds of years. The coast suffers form foggy weather that hides rocky and sandy shallows. There is no water source for many miles inland. No trees, no shade, no food and no shelter. Because of the barren nature of the coast, any shipwrecked sailors were doomed to die of thirst and exposure. The lack of any sustainable resources also meant there were no lighthouses or warning beacons. So year after year ships ran into hidden dangers and die horrible prolong deaths.

    Have a good look at the pictures and take plenty of water and fuel in your vehicle!

    THE JAW BONE IS NOW ON MY BOOKSHELF MY CAR - FULL OF FUEL AND WATER!
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    ELECTRICAL PLUGS IN NAMIBIA

    by DAO Written Jan 6, 2008

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    Electricity in Namibia is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. They use the round, South African pins. So if you are from Western Europe, you need an adapter. If you are from North America, you need a converter or your electrical item will blow up.

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    Windhoek Lager

    by Gili_S Written Nov 16, 2006

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    Well, of course, what else did you expected? Namibia is traditionaly country of good beer and the Windhoek Lager was my favourite local beer, I could find it almost anywhere, in restaurants, shops and most important, is camping sites, after all day on the road in the desert, there is nothing better then a cold beer and watching the sun set over the dunes.

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    The Herero

    by MikeAtSea Written Oct 25, 2006

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    The third-largest group with about 150.000 members, are the Herero people who mainly inhabit central Namibia. The Herero women's wide skirts and colourful headgear; the shape of which reminds one of a cow's horns, can be traced back to the influence of the missionaries' wives who, in the beginning, were upset about the women's sparing traditional dress. The proud, tall and strongly built Herero people are fanatic cattle breeders. Their land is always overgrazed. Their centre is Okahandja where every year, they hold a festival to honour their ancestors.

    Herero Women
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    Meet the locals

    by mad4travel Written Oct 23, 2006

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    Herero Women

    You may come across Herero women selling handicrafts by the side of the road. The Herero are a people belonging to the Bantu group, The majority of the Herero live in Namibia, with the remainder living in Botswana and Angola.

    The Herero have a sad history in Namibia. During the late 19th century, Europeans began entering to permanently settle the land. German settlers acquired land from the Herero in order to establish farms. In 1883, the merchant Franz Adolf Eduard Lüderitz entered into a contract with the native elders. The exchange later became the basis of German colonial rule. The territory became a German colony under the name of German South-West Africa.

    Soon after, conflicts between the German colonists and the Herero herdsmen began. Controversies frequently arose because of disputes about access to land and water, but also the legal discrimination of the native population by the white immigrants.

    In 1904, those conflicts resulted in an uprising, known as the Herero Wars, by the Herero and Nama. After a period of success for the well-equipped insurgents, the German Empire sent a military expedition corps of about 15,000 men under the command of Lothar von Trotha.

    The war and the subsequent genocide ordered by von Trotha resulted in the death of an estimated 65,000 Hereros.

    The Himba people also below to the Herero tribe, when the conflict was going on they preferred to migrate to inaccessible parts of northern Namibia to continue their basic way of life.

    Herero women dress in costumes that echo the victorian missionary past and have interesting hats shaped like horns to depict a cow which is the Herero symbol of wealth.

    Herero woman Namibia Herero woman Namibia

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    German Influence

    by SanguiniA Updated Aug 4, 2006

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    It is common knowledge that Namibia has a cetrain Gerrman influence .... one example is the beer, brewed to German standards. And do the Namibians know how to make a refreshing beer!!! I am referring to the wonderful Windhoek Lager - yummy. There is also Tafel but I would prefer the Windhoek anytime, especially in the desert :-) But a word of warning, drunk driving is not looked upon nicely here so be careful, for your own sake first and foremost ;-)

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    Respect the Locals

    by Acirfa Written Nov 20, 2005

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    It is important to take into acount the locals demure ways. They are well covered and do not reveal their bodies, behave accordingly, it shows respect.
    Try to avoid looking the local men in the eye, this is taken as a come on.
    Ladies travelling alone, it is wise to carry a phot of a man and children, show it often and speak of them, even if they dont' belong to you.

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    local food - Biltong

    by chicabonita Updated Jan 16, 2005

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    Biltong is dried meat. Meat from different game is used. I ate kudu and oryx biltong. It is very very delicious. But it is nothing for vegetarian and I guess not everyone would like it. I could ate tons of it :-))

    Solitaire
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