Damara

The Damara inhabit the environs of the Brandberg and Khorixas, which is now the Erongo Region. They once inhabited large parts of central Namibia, but were driven out by the Nama and Herero. Under South African rule the Damara were forced into the homeland called Damaraland. Traditionally the Damara were hunters and gatherers, who also herded goats. The community consist of several larger families called haoti. Their religion is focussed on the ‘eternal fire’ and intertwined with their hunting activities. The Damara have been giving anthropologists headaches and continue to do so as their physical appearance and language indicate two completely different lines of descent. The language of the Damara is a Khoekhoe language similar to that of the Nama and recognizable by its characteristic clicks. However the Nama are physically completely different to the Damara and have a much lighter skin colour. Although the Damara are dark skinned they have few other resemblances with any Bantu groups.

Today the Damara in rural areas are making an income of livestock production and farm corn and vegetables. Many Damara have moved into urban areas and work as teachers, clerics and officials. Others work on commercial farms or in small mines. Politicians such as former Prime Minister Hage Geingob and the speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, are among the most well-known Damara.