The Republic of Namibia is a Southern African country made up of so many different ethnicities, with its culture and customs. The Coloreds and Basters, like the majority of white and black Namibians, maintain distinct community identities while having identical ancestry and cultural traits. Although Namibia is believed to have 11 distinct ethnic groups, these are actually just combinations of smaller ethnic groups with similar languages and traditions.
Namibia is a diverse country where clothing spans cultures, times and places. Everything they wear has meaning, whether it’s present day or Victorian. Namibian outfits tell a lot about their culture by the clothes they wear.
The Damara wore clothing made of animal skins. For clothing and blankets, the main animal skins used were those of springbok, goat and jackal. In the same way that it distinguishes boys, single and married men, and men of a certain age, the traditional damaran costume distinguishes a girl, a single or married woman, and an elderly woman. Unlike ordinary clothing, some costumes were reserved for particular rituals.
In the Damara culture, where clothing is usually worn during cultural ceremonies and on special occasions, animal skins have been replaced by cloth. The Damaran created the Damarokoes as an ideal substitute for animal skins (Damara dress). In the mid-19th century, the Damarokoes were adopted by missionary wives. The dress was used to cover the “naked” Damara ladies, and with its ankle length, long sleeves and khens (shawl), it made sure to provide as much coverage as possible.
The first Nama dressed entirely in animal skin. In order to keep warm, they wore skin-covered robes in winter and inside-out clothes in summer. The Nama people, however, lost many elements of their culture to colonialism, and one of the first things to change was the way they dressed. The majority of the Nama wear Victorian-style clothing, which was greatly influenced by the settlers. Long formal dresses resembling clothing from the Victorian era are the traditional attire of Nama women. Long, flowing clothes originated from the missionary fashion of the 1800s, and they still play an important role in Nama culture today.
The San wear basic clothing. They wear animal hides and skins as they are mostly hunters and gatherers. The ladies also wear animal skin skirts and pants, leather jackets, and a double leather apron that covers the front and back with hair, arm, and leg decorations made of rings and beads. necklaces. Males dress in antelope skirts, leather coats, and shoulder bags that hold everything they need.
Animal skins are used in the traditional clothing of the Kavango people. The ladies wore long braids of plant fibers, spiral bracelets and copper bracelets, and multiple turns of ostrich shell bead necklaces. A hairstyle can be worn for a year or several months before it needs to be replaced. Men wax regularly.
The attire of the Kavango people was once truly traditional. The only clothes men could put on were a belt and a short front apron to cover their genitals, however, women had access to more clothes and their apron-like clothes were more like skirts. Men’s buttocks and women’s breasts could be seen.
Although modern fabrics are increasingly used, the traditional dress of Himba men consists of a simple calfskin skirt combined with non-traditional clothing, such as shirts or coats. Their sandals often contain discarded car tires as the only material. According to ancient traditions, the Himba still wear traditional jewelry today. Many arm bracelets and necklaces made from ostrich eggshell, grass, cloth and copper beads are worn by both men and women. The huge white shell that Himba women wear around their breasts is known as the ohumba, and adult women wear beaded anklets to protect their legs from the bites of dangerous animals.
Herero women’s clothing choices are a constant reminder of the tribe’s troubling past and recent history, during which the Germans came dangerously close to wiping out the entire population. The once prosperous Namibian population was virtually wiped out by the genocide. Their traditional clothing overturns the style of their former masters as a continuing protest against the Germans who slaughtered them. The traditional Herero dress, known as “Ohorokova”, is an A-lined garment with bright, colorful patterns and many petticoats. The result is a loose, structured skirt. A cow horn shaped cap completes the outfit. The Herero, who are traditionally cattle herders and measure their wealth in cattle, honor this aspect of their identity by wearing this traditional garment.
Odelela is the name of the fabric used to make the traditional clothing of the Ovambo people. Ovambo men wear shirts made of odelela, while Ovambo women dress in long dresses, skirts and short puff sleeves. Ovambo women further accessorize with waist beads, shells, skins and leathers. Depending on the age, social class or marital position of women, different jewelry is worn. The Ovambo can be identified by their clothing and the traditional clothing of other tribes, such as that of the Ovaherero and Namas, frequently incorporating Ovambo cloth. The odelela skirt is adorned with beads at the waist, shells and animal skin belts which are all worn differently depending on the woman’s age and marital status; these outfits are for weddings and traditional rituals like olufuko.