The Nama People

The Nama originally lived around the Orange River in southern Namibia and northern South Africa in the mid nineteenth century their leader Jan Jonker Afrikaner led them to the are of present day Windhoek. Even before this the Nama lived in Namaqualand and were called Hottentots but were pushed northwards by the European farmers. There are about 60 000 Nama people who live in Namibia and they are thought to be the true descendants of the Khoikhoi.

Unfortunately they came into conflict with the Herero, who were already in this area, and the groups fought many wars. Eventually the German government relocated the warring groups to several reserves.

The Nama have much in common with the San (Bushmen) sharing the same linguistic roots and features, as with the San people the Nama have light skin, and a small delicate frame. The Nama language share a common language with the Damara people. The Nama consist of thirteen groups (listed with Nama name and European name in parenthesis) the !Kharkoen (Simon Cooper), /Hoaaran//Aixallaes (Afrikaner), =Aonin (Topnaar), Kai//Khaun, Khauben (Rooi Nasie), /Hai/Khau-an (Berseba tribe), Orlams, //Habobe/Kharloan (Veldskoendraers), //Khau/goan (Swartbooi), !Gami=nun (Bondelswarts), /Koenesen (Witbooi), //Okain (Groot Doders) and Kai/Khau-an (Lamberts). The imaginative spelling of the Nama names is due to the fact they have five clicks in the language, and these are their denotations.

The Nama practice a policy of communal land ownership except for the Topnaars of the Kuiseb. Music, poetry and story telling are very important in Nama culture and many stories have been passed down orally through the generations.

One of the greatest Namibian leaders Hendrik Witbooi was a Nama leader who heroically harassed the German occupiers from his base in the Naukluft mountains and played a large part in the history of Namibia's first liberation struggle. Today he is fondly remembered by all sections of the Namibian Population and was chosen as the head which appears on all Namibian banknotes.

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