Arts and Crafts in Namibia

The arts and craft scene has many positive effects for Namibians all over the country. The production of traditional crafts in rural areas helps to fight unemployment and alleviate poverty. Traditional woodcarvings, woven baskets and jewellery are also a way to present and nurture Namibian culture. In the urban areas and especially Windhoek contemporary art forms are helping people to deals with political and social issues and provide a constructive form of expression for modern Namibians.

Craft Markets

Namibia’s craft centres are great places to shop for souvenirs, to socialize with the locals and to support the local economy. Skilled Namibian craftsmen and craftswoman have embraced traditional crafting as a way to unshackle their creativity and feed their families. The unique and handmade crafts can be bought at vibrant outlets and market all over the country.

  • Namibia Craft Centre: The craft centre in the Old Breweries Building in Tal Street is the primary outlet for Namibia’s local creativity. The Namibia Craft Centre provides an excellent platform for Namibian craftsmen and entrepreneurs and has been a factor in providing jobs and livelihoods for many Namibians. Visitors can purchase anything from beauty products to clothing, music, jewellery, baskets, woodcarvings and the legendary mopane worms. The venue now includes a designated parking area, coffee shop, photographic studio and the headquarters of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN).
  • Katutura Community Art Centre (KCAC): The Old Compound of Kattutura in Windhoek’s lively suburb offers training programmes and exhibitions space for young artists.
  • Namibia Mbangura Woodcarvers: Close to the town of Okahandja this outlet sells crafts from the north and northeast of Namibia. Local crafters demonstrate their skills in the two display venues.
  • Ncumcara Craft Shop: The woodcarvers 35km south of Rundu sell anything from carved animals to wooden doors.
  • Tulongeni Craft Market: 90km south of Ondangwa this market features the work of the Ndilimani Pottery Group. The women of the group started applying their skills to clay found in the flood plains close to Oshakati and now are a hit at the market.
  • Katima Craft Centre: This outlet sells baskets, clay pots, wood carvings and jewellery from the Katima Mulilo area.
  • Mashi Crafts Trading Post: Situated in Kongola in the heart of the Caprivi Strip the Mashi Crafts Trading Post is a trading hub for the produce of the surrounding areas. The post supports the work of more than 300 craftspeople allowing these men and women to exercise traditional skills and provide for their families. Visitors can buy unique items such as khwe fruit collection baskets, mbono seed necklaces, reed matts and wood carvings.
  • G!hunku Crafts: On your way to Khaudum National Park or Botswana stop at the G!hunku Crafts shop where you can buy traditional San crafts including ostrich shell beads and jewellery.
  • Wake Centre: This outlet sells traditional Nama arts and crafts in Tseiblaagte Township of Keetmanshoop and is supported by the Empowering People in Need group.

Art Galleries

Namibia’s biggest and most popular art venue is the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) in Windhoek. The gallery offers a permanent exhibition of contemporary and historic Namibian art and opens up into a sculpture garden with a popular restaurant.

Windhoek’s commercial art galleries are the House of Art in Maerua Mall and  the Bank Windhoek Omba Gallery in the Namibia Craft Centre.

Theatre

Situated in Windhoek’s cultural hub of the Old Breweries Building the 99fm Playhouse Theatre entertains guests with plays, jazz, blues and cabaret. The National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) in Robert Mugabe Avenue offers theatre, ballet and opera from Namibia, South Africa and the world. The National Theatre also hosts the Windhoek Symphony Orchestra.

Festivals

  • Bank Windhoek Arts Festival (BWAF): This annual arts festival has a distinctly local flavour combining all arts from poetry, writing, composition, choir, theatre and dance to visual arts, pottery and costume design. BWAF complemented by several monthly events and gives amateurs and established artists an opportunity to showcase their work.
  • /Ae//Gams Arts and Cultural Festival: The annual /Ae/Gams Festival present Namibia’s creative and cultural diversity. Located in Windhoek the festival presents local and foreigners with the best in music, cuisine, song and dance, traditional attire, theatre and poetry.
  • Sam Khubis Festival: Every year from 7-8 May the Rehoboth Basters remember the battle of Sam Khubis in 1915. The Basters had refused to join German forces, which lead to a bloody confrontation with the colonialists, from which the Germans eventually withdrew.
  • Caprivi Regional Cultural Festival: The different cultural groups come together to celebrate their traditional values, languages, food, music and dance. This festival is particularly targeted at the younger people of the communities who will continue the traditions of the Caprivi Region.
  • Hizetjitwa Festival: The two-day festival was introduced in 2011 by the Hizetjitwa Indigenous Peoples Organisation (HIPO) to retain their traditional customs and values. The festival features performances by the Himba, Zemba, Tjimba, and Twa tribes close to Opuwo in the Kunene Region.
  • Damara Festival: Every year in November the two-day Damara Festival celebrates the memory of past leaders and strengthens the ties of the youth with Damara tradition.
  • Masubia Cultural Festival: The Masubia tribe inhabits parts of Namibia, Botswana and Zambia and comes together annually in Bukalo close to Katima Mulilo to celebrate their tradition. The festival is a way to share memories and honour the chiefs of the tribes.