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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Water and Culture: Namibia

Water in Africa

Region
Africa, Namibia
Type
Story

 

by Mark Schwartz, Tsumkwe Region, Namibia

The San (bushman) culture is renowned for its ability to preserve natural resources, especially water. I have seen traditional water containers made from ostrich eggshells (used by the traditional hunters when they were a nomadic, hunting/gathering society). Unfortunately, the present generation of San in my community is no longer hunter/gatherer; their appreciation of water extends as far as whether or not it comes out of the tap. The rural villagers express concern for water mainly when there are problems with the water pump or when an elephant tears down the windmill. The government-controlled "Rural Water Supply" agency is responsible for the boreholes, which supply water to the community. Although the people have a great appreciation for water, it is not expressed through ceremony—at least, not as far as I know.


by Deirdre Deakyne, Onambutu Village, Namibia

Water is a big problem in Namibia. The country is very, very dry—the driest country south of the Sahara. If rain does not fall, the people suffer. The people in my village are very conscious of their water resources.

One of my teachers gave me this song which young children sing about water:

In Osmkwanyama:

Omeve oku li po afi mana
Omeve oku li po afi mana

Tukufe omeva
Tukufe omeva
Tukufe omeva
Tulikosheni.

In English:

Water is important
Water is important
Take water
Take water
Take water
To wash our bodies.


by Heidi Spaly, Eembahu, Namibia

Water plays a role in traditional art and foods. It is essential in making the epililo ( baskets woven from palm leaves) and traditional clay pots. The palm leaves are soaked in water before being woven together. The traditional clay pot (etiti) is made in special kilns near where the clay is found. The women have to stop making the etiti during the rainy season since the source of the clay is then under water.

Water is used in traditional cooking to make the staple porridge (oshifina and oshikundu), grain drink (mahangu), and the traditional beer (omalundu).

There are traditional stories that often involve watering holes. If a village wants to acquire a new tap they must get approval from the government, but the village chief (traditional government) must also approve it.

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