The Damara People

About 100 000 Damara people live in Namibia, they share a common language with the Nama but have no kinship. The Damara have mystified anthropologists as they are a group of Bantu origin who speak a Khoisan dialect. Due to their resemblance to some bantu groups of West Africa it is speculated that the Damara were the first people to migrate to Namibia from the north.

There is evidence that the Damara have kept small herds of stock for centuries, they also grow tobacco and pumpkins, and in more recent time they have begun cultivating vegetables and corn.

Prior to 1870 the Damara occupied most of central Namibia, but large numbers were displaced or killed when the Nama and Herero began to occupy this area in search of better grazing. When the first Europeans visited Namibia the Damara were a group of semi-nomadic gardeners, pastoralists and hunter-gatherers. They also had skills in mining and metal work. However in 1960 the South African government settled the Damara in Damaraland, an area of poor soil and irregular rain fall. Due to this many Damara now work in the urban areas and only about one quarter of their numbers still occupy Damaraland.

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