The Nama are one of the oldest indigenous groups in Namibia, the ethnic group of Nama, or Namaqua that literally means " Nama people ", is a subset of the broader South-African ethno-linguistic group of Khoikhoi, and they are their only true descendants.
Today there are 13 Nama tribes present in Namibia, South Africa and to a lesser extent in Botswana; Namibia accounts for about one-eighth of the total population.
Traditionally, the language spoken by the Nama belongs to the family of the Khoe-Kwadi languages, easily recognizable by shots and clicks that are characteristic and common to the language used by all the Khoisan tribes; nowadays many Nama also speak Afrikaans.
The Nama are shepherds and most of them still practices a communal ownership of land policy; this means that none of them owns the land, but that all the members of a group have free access and can use it as they want.
They live in huts called Haru Oms that are constructed to be easily dismantled and moved elsewhere, this allows them to migrate when the pastures of an area become scarce.
The Nama have a great oral tradition: the traditional music, folk tales, proverbs, poems and riddles are handed down for generations and they are a key aspect of their culture and their identity.
The stories and poems are passed down from generation to generation, the poems have different themes, some are love songs, others praise heroic figures, there are also songs dedicated to animals and plants present in the environment; usually they are told to children by older family members, but any adult interested in listening or telling stories, can participate at any age.
The Nama culture has been kept alive not only with the narrative but also with a rich heritage of music and traditional dances as well as crafts created mainly by Nama women.
Men and women proudly display their textile painting works with motifs taken from art and the environment, they realize leather attires, and lappiesrok, a dress made of scraps of cloth, as a kind of patchwork.
The Nama women are highly skilled artisans, their embroidery and applique are considered as an art form, usually they perform scenes in bright colors inspired by the environment and the lifestyle of the Nama themselves.
The clothing, over the years, has been largely influenced by settlers; in rare cases, some women still wear traditional clothing, but the majority of them are wearing clothing in Victorian style, due to the influence of the missionaries who were present in these areas during the European colonization.
Life, tradition and culture of Nama people
- Nama huts and villages
- Nama origins
- Nama wedding ritual
- Nama religion and legends
- Nama history