After gaining independence from South Africa in 1990, this African country was created. The population density is the world’s second lowest, implying that people have a lot of land per person. Since prehistoric times, humans have lived in the area, and Bantu-speaking tribes began to arrive in the 14th century AD. During the 1800s, German occupiers began constructing agricultural and infrastructure in the area, which was eventually taken over by South Africa in 1915. Namibia has a population of 2.1 million people, divided into many tribes and ethnic groupings, which are detailed further down.
Join us in learning more about the locals who have made a home in Namibia so that you can connect with them and learn more about this beautiful country.
Tribes And Ethnicities Of Namibia
The Ovambo people (also known as Ambo) make up almost half of the population and live mostly in the north of the country. The Ovambo people are made up of about 12 minor tribes that are members of the broader Bantu people. This ethnic group has traditionally lived under the leadership of a chief who distributed plots of land to each household. The chief assigned the land to a new person after the tenant died. Millet (a type of grain) harvesting and livestock husbandry are the people’s main sources of income nowadays. The Lutheran faith is the most widely practised religion, albeit it is combined with traditional beliefs in good and evil spirits.
The Kavango people follow the Ovambos, accounting for 9% of the overall population. This ethnic group is likewise a Bantu ethnic group, and they inhabit Namibia’s northeastern area. For sustenance, they engage in fishing, livestock husbandry, and agricultural harvests. Namibian law safeguards their ability to exercise traditional governance, which divides the tribe into five kingdoms, each controlled by a different monarch. Elders are held in high regard in their culture.
Individuals of German, British, Portuguese, and Afrikaner origin make up the white Namibian population. Although accuracy is restricted because the Namibian government no longer gathers race data on the census, they are believed to comprise about 7% of the population. The vast majority of these people reside in cities. This group earned a privileged position under the apartheid system, which racially separated the area and handed political influence to the white minority, which continues to benefit them now. Despite a land reform that attempted to return ownership of the land to its original owners, they hold 50% of all farm land.
The Damara people dwell in the northern portion of the nation and make up 7% of the population. Although little is known about the people, their native language is Khoekhoe. They have no ties to other tribes and are thought to have descended from a hunter-gatherer culture. In the central part of the country, they used to practice coppersmithing, herding, and agriculture. Their belief in communally owned property led to their expulsion from the land by the Herero and Nama tribes, for whom they afterwards worked as house servants.
The Herero people, who have historically occupied the centre section of the nation for its extensive pastureland, make up another 7% of the overall population. Because of their geographical separation, the Herero did not have much contact with the Ovambo and Kavango peoples. This group originated in the 17th and 18th century in the eastern half of the continent. They were quickly followed by colonialists and Nama (who comprise up to 5% of the population).
The Nama and Herero fought each other for most of the nineteenth century, yet they were able to find common ground over their dislike of German conquerors. White settlers grabbed territory from both the Herero and the Nama, and by the turn of the century, they had gained majority control. The Germans, on the other hand, were not pleased, and they planned to relocate the tribes to reserve territories in order to get more land and livestock. The two tribal tribes joined forces to organise a three-year insurgency that nearly wiped off the Herero and Nama populations. According to estimates, roughly 80% of each tribe perished during the genocide. Those who remained were driven to the desert and forced to live in concentration camps along the coast, where they were forced to labor as slaves building railways and digging diamonds.
Other tribes and ethnicities exist in Namibia, but they only make up a small part of the population. Caprivians (4 percent), Busmen (3 percent), Tswana (1 percent), and other groups with less than 1% each are among them.
The Indigenous Peoples of Namibia
The San, the Ovatjimba, Ovatue, and Ovahimba, as well as a variety of other peoples such as the Damara (Nkhoen) and Nama, are among Namibia’s indigenous peoples. Together, these Indigenous Peoples account for around 8% of the country’s overall population, which was 2,630,073 in 2020. The San (Bushmen) number between 28,000 and 35,000 people, accounting for slightly more than 1% of the country’s population.
The Khwe, Hai||om, Ju|’hoansi (and related Kao||’aesi),!Xun (comprising four or more distinct populations), Naro, and!Xó (and related N|oha) are among them. Each San tribe speaks its own language and has its own set of customs, traditions, and history.
In the past, the San were mostly hunter-gatherers, but today, many of them have diversified their livelihoods. Over 80% of the San have been deprived of their native lands and resources, and they are now among the country’s poorest and most marginalised peoples. The Ovatjimba and Ovatue (Ovatwa) are pastoral people that live in the Kunene Region in Namibia’s semi-arid and hilly north-west. They used to rely on hunting and gathering as well. They number around 27,000 people, accounting for 1.02 percent of Namibia’s overall population.
— Bronwyn Reynolds, Fizzin