Customs and traditions
In the young nation Namibia, national symbols
are important. The school children sing the national
anthem every day, and it is often played on radio and at
festivals. In terms of culture and traditions, there are
differences between the different groups of people.
A visitor should be somewhat careful to inquire about
a Namibian's ethnic background - for many, national
unity is central and all emphasis on different peoples
is viewed with suspicion. Others identify themselves
more with an individual group of people and are happy to
point out ethnic characteristics.
Overview of the capital city of Namibia, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Unlike the other traditional kinship of the mother,
the Ovambo people count. For example, san and nama have
a strong oral storytelling tradition. Among the
herdsmen, some women still wear Victorian-style dresses,
a hundred-year-old heritage of German missionaries.
Others have maintained the tradition of lubricating
themselves with red sugar and fat, and marking age and
social status through the hairstyle.
An odd custom is practiced among the people of himba
and zemba in northern Namibia. There, a man can lend his
wife to his friends who can have sex with her. In
theory, women also have the right to lend their men the
same way, but it is very uncommon for this to happen.
Among himba and zemba, custom is seen as a way to
strengthen friendship and prevent promiscuity, but it is
strongly criticized by groups that fight for women's
rights. They point out that it is above all men who like
the custom. They also point to the risk of spreading HIV
/ AIDS as an argument against partner exchanges.
Know and label
Many Namibians, regardless of ethnicity, are happy to
send greetings out of time. Handshaking is important for
most people. It's nice to see the one you're talking to,
but without staring. You show restraint with strong
feelings in the public place. Gratitude between two
people is preferably avoided, especially in rural areas.
Punctuality is important, especially in a workplace.
Minimum delay can be considered bad behavior.
Football is extremely popular and a safe topic of
Namibians are quite formal in terms of clothing in
public contexts. Shorts and t-shirts are considered
informal clothing. Jeans, especially women, are not
allowed in workplaces or churches.
Eating habits vary. People who live mostly from
livestock farming eat a lot of milk products, those who
primarily grow the soil eat millet, sorghum and corn.
Beans and some greens are found mainly in the north, but
overall there is a dearth of vegetables. Meat is sought
after and eaten at least at holidays. On festive
occasions, the one who can slaughter a cow or goat, and
serves home-brewed beer. Fish consumption is quite low,
but the government has tried to increase interest.
Weekends and holidays
Namibians celebrate their independence day on March
21. Another important holiday falls on May 4, the
so-called Cassinga Day. The celebration commemorates the
fact that hundreds of Namibians were killed in a South
African flight attack against a Swap camp in 1978. On
August 26, Heroes Day is in memory of when the Freedom
War began in 1966.
Other non-religious holidays are January 1 and May 1,
as well as Africa Day on May 25, which celebrates the
founding of the African Unity Organization in 1963 (OAU,
later replaced by the African Union, AU), and Human
Rights Day on December 10 (when the United Nations
Declaration on Human Rights signed, 1948).
Long Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Day, Christmas
Day and Christmas Day are also national holidays.
Christmas and New Year are important family holidays, as
many travel to their hometowns.
Namibia's transport network maintains a high
standard according to African conditions. It was built
to fit in with the South African network. Roads and
railways run mainly from north to south and from the
capital Windhoek to the port city of Walvis Bay.
After independence in 1990, Namibia, with the help of
foreign aid donors, built new road links to neighboring
countries in the east. One road goes through the
Kalahari Desert to Botswana and one through the Zambezi
region to Zambia. Zambezi Road means that exports from
the rich copper fields in Zambia and southern
Congo-Kinshasa can go via Walvis Bay. In 2004, a bridge
replaced ferry traffic across the Zambezi River at the
There is close to 250 miles of railroad, but
maintenance is neglected along certain sections. The
only railway abroad goes to South Africa. However, an
expansion is ongoing in the country's densely populated
northern parts and will reach the border with Angola. In
2014, Botswana and Namibia also agreed to build a
railway through Kalahari, from coalfields in Botswana to
The port of Walvis Bay has been expanded and
modernized in stages, and a further expansion is
ongoing. There is also a smaller port in Lüderitz.
From the international airport in Windhoek, Air
Namibia has direct flights to some countries in
Africa as well as to a couple in Europe. The state plans
to sell the debt-laden airline, but has had difficulty