Before the 1870s, the Damara tribesmen lived primarily in Namibia’s central region. However, communal clashes and invasions by Nama and Herero forced many of them to flee their traditional home.
The arrival of the Europeans exacerbated the woes and customs. In their attempt to colonize Namibia, Europeans fought against anything that gave the indigenous people strength. Originally, the Damara were nomads, hunter-gatherers, and farmers. A small percentage of them work in mining and metal fabrication.
The Damara and “bushmen” of Namibia are the country’s oldest tribes. The Damara people’s customs are a hybrid of hunter-gatherer and pastoralism. But for the weak social structures, their culture would have been able to withstand the Europeans’ assault.
Against this backdrop, the Damara project was established to reconstruct the people’s cultural identity. The Damara Living Museum, located a few miles from Twyfelfontein, is the world’s first of its kind. At the Living Museum, tourists and visitors can learn about the people’s lost customs and traditions.
The Living Museum is a brilliant way to preserve traditional culture while also assisting communities in combating poverty and creating a network where people can exchange their culture. It has become a source of income for the Damara people, who profit from tourists who come to experience the culture firsthand.
The Damara are thought to have ties to the Bantu people and speak Khoisan. According to the Living Culture Foundation Namibia, they were the first to travel from the north to Namibia.
The Damara tribe accounts for 8.5 percent of Namibia’s population. They are known locally as Daman or Damaqua. The majority of them live in Namibia’s northwest regions. Apart from their ancestral connection with the Bantu people, the Damara tribe has no cultural exchange with any other tribe in Africa. They are a distinct group of individuals.
Some historians believe the Damara are descended from southwestern African hunter-gatherers. Despite the fact that the Damara culture is on the verge of extinction, the tribes that have survived can be divided into various clans. Each Damara tribe has its own chief, but they are all ruled by the same monarch.
Some Damara natives continue to live in their ancestral homes and pursue their traditional livelihoods of cattle herding and sheep farming. The Damara women are in charge of running the household and caring for the children, while the men hunt and tend to the livestock.
The only problem they have is that they were relocated in 1970 by the South African government to Damaraland, where the soil did not support good harvesting and the area experienced poor rainfall patterns.
They have since been impacted by rural-urban migration, which has forced many of the men to work in cities. Only one-quarter of the population remains in Damaraland.
In the 1980s, Damaraland established a local government unit to provide oversight. However, Damaraland, like many other traditional powerhouses in South West Africa, was deposed of its authority prior to independence in 1989.