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28Black: Namibia, Home of the Desert Dunes

Updated: Feb 11, 2022

How cool is it that the world’s oldest desert is in Namibia?

Namib Desert is an 80-million-year-old desert, the most ancient desert on our planet.

Previously known as South West Africa, Namibia was renamed after gaining independence from South Africa in 1990.

Namib, one of the least crowded places on earth, means “Vast place” in Nama, a Namibian language.

A melting pot full of rich culture and tradition, Namibians have managed to blend both European and African cultures, fusing them to create a perfect blend of both cultures.

Colonized by German soldiers during the first world war, then South West Africa was almost eradicated due to the 1904 genocide of the Herero people, leaving a significant imprint in Namibia’s history.

German is one of Namibia’s spoken languages. To date, a significant number of Herero men and women continue to dress in 19th-century German attires to reclaim their power and raise awareness about their country’s bloody history.

As the first African country to incorporate environmental protection into its constitution, Namibia boasts of bountiful wildlife, with 40% of its land under conservation management.

Beauty and Peculiarities of Namibia

Agriculture is a big part of Namibia, with most Namibians depending directly or indirectly on livestock agriculture for their livelihoods.

Historically the export of live animals like cattle and sheep has contributed to about two-thirds of the country’s agricultural export value.

Over the years, especially in 2019, Namibia exported about 12,400 metric tons of meat, mainly to the United States, Europe, South Africa, and China. (Namibia recently became the first and only African country to export beef to the United States.)

Namibia is also gender-inclusive as the country elected its first female leader, Saara Kuugongelwa in 2015. Saara Kuugongelwa is also the country’s fourth prime minister and the only female leader in Africa.

To celebrate Black History Month, here are two interesting facts about Namibia.

Land of Free-Roaming Cheetahs

Very few places in the world can cheetahs run free. Namibia is one of those few places, with 3,000+ free-roaming cheetahs at the Cheetah Conservation in Namibia.

Wildlife conservation is a source of pride and joy for Namibians, and it is taken very seriously. Endangered species can be found in several conversations scattered around Namibia.

Fascinating Namibia Tribes

It is rare to find cultures today that have not been affected by civilization or westernization.

The Himba tribe in the Kunene region of the country is one of the few tribes that remain unaffected by civilization and has held on to their traditional ways and beliefs.

This reflects in their choice of outfit and way of life, even down to their religion.

The women leave their upper body bare, wearing just skirts and other clothing items.

The Himba people uses clay to weave their hair and create dynamic and unique hairstyles.

For the Himba tribe of Namibia, the gender roles are reversed as women and girls perform more labor-intensive work than men and boys do. This includes carrying water to the village, ensuring a secure supply of milk (they milk the cows and goats as part of their daily routine), cooking and serving meals, as well as artisans making handicrafts, clothing, and jewelry.

On the other hand, the men’s main tasks include:

· Tending to livestock

· Farming

· Herding, which requires the men to be away from the family home for extended periods

· Animal slaughtering for food

· Construction

· Holding council village meetings

The Himba women spread red ochre cream on their skin as a form of beautification and to block hair growth on the body.

The red ochre cream is made from small ochre stone fragments that are late mixed with butter, heated, and applied to the skin. This has also helped to protect against the scorching desert sun while keeping the skin clean and moist.

Preserving Namibian Culture

Like most African countries, Namibia has weathered through several storms. It has managed to preserve its rich culture, making a statement through its food, mode of dressing, and wildlife preservation.

The country continues to grow and thrive and as a tourist hub with deserts and wildlife where people can connect with nature.


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