Nama

The Nama are descendants of the Khoekhoe who lived in the area surrounding the Orange River. Nama Chief Jan Jonker Afrikaner led his tribe further north into central Namibia. As pastoral nomads the Nama often clashed with the Herero who were also looking for better grazing. The conflicts came to an end when the German colonialists arrived and waged war on both peoples. Hendrik Witbooi was a prominent figure in the Namas’ struggle against the colonialists and is now pictured on the N$ 10 note.

As descendants of the Khoekhoe the Nama resemble the San and the Topnaar in appearance and language. The characteristic clicks are common to the languages of all Khoisan tribes. The nomadic tribes traditionally moved with their cattle and portable huts. The huts are constructed of rush-mats and wooden structures. The only place, where this traditional lifestyle still exists, is the South African section of the /Ai-/Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

The Nama are a musically talented people and songs and poetry are handed down through the generations. The embroidery by the Nama women creates colourful motifs of rural life and Nama culture and is considered a traditional art form.  Nama crafts are sold at Gibeon Folk Art in Gibeon.

Today most Nama have adopted a Western lifestyle. Many have converted to Christianity, speak Afrikaans as a first language and work in urban centres.