One of the real advantages of travel and race coverage is meeting a new culture and gaining a new experience. Today I came face-to-face with the Nama people who came to greet us and welcome us at the 2016 Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun.
Race images are available at iancorless.photoshelter.com
Nama (in older sources also called Namaqua) are an African ethnic group of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. They traditionally speak the Nama language of the Khoe-Kwadi language family, although many Nama also speak Afrikaans. The Nama are the largest group of the Khoikhoi people, most of whom have largely disappeared as a group, except for the Namas. Many of the Nama clans live in Central Namibia and the other smaller groups live in Namaqualand, which today straddles the Namibian border with South Africa.
Reference and information from ©wikipedia
For thousands of years, the Khoisan peoples of South Africa and southern Namibia maintained a nomadic life, the Khoikhoi as pastoralists and the San people as hunter-gatherers. The Nama are a Khoikhoi group.
From 1904 to 1907, the Germans, who had colonised present-day Namibia waged war against the Nama and the Herero (a group of Bantu pastoralists), leading to the Herero and Namaqua Genocide in which they killed at least 80% of the Nama and Herero populations. This was motivated by the German desire to establish a prosperous colony which required displacing the indigenous people from their agricultural land. Large herds of cattle were confiscated and Nama and Herero people were driven into the desert and in some cases interned in concentration camps on the coast, for example at Shark Island. Additionally, the Nama and Herero were forced into slave labour to build railways and to dig for diamonds during the diamond rush.
In the 1920s diamonds were discovered at the mouth of the Orange River, and prospectors began moving there, establishing towns at Alexander Bay and Port Nolloth. This accelerated the appropriation of traditional lands that had begun early in the colonial period. Under apartheid, remaining pastoralists were encouraged to abandon their traditional lifestyle in favour of village life.
The Nama originally lived around the Orange River in southern Namibia and northern South Africa. The early colonialists referred to them as Hottentots. Their alternative historical name, “Namaqua”, simply stems from the addition of the Khoekhoe language suffix “-qua/khwa”, meaning “people” (found in the names of other Southern African nations like the Griqua)
In 1991, a part of Namaqualand (home of the Nama and one of the last true wilderness areas of South Africa) was named the Richtersveld National Park. In December 2002, ancestral lands, including the park, were returned to community ownership and the governments of South Africa and Namibia began creating a trans-frontier park from the west coast of southern Africa to the desert interior, absorbing the Richtersveld National Park. Today, the Richtersveld National Park is one of the few places where the original Nama traditions survive. Here, the Nama move with the seasons and speak their language. The traditional Nama dwelling – the |haru oms, or portable rush-mat covered domed hut – protects against the blistering sun, and is easy to move when grazing becomes scarce.
At the dawn of the 19th century, Oorlam people encroached into Namaqualand and Damaraland. They likewise descended from indigenousKhoikhoi but are a group who mixed with Europeans and with slaves from Madagascar, India, and Indonesia. After two centuries of assimilation into the Nama culture, many Oorlams today regard Khoikhoigowab (Damara/Nama) as their mother tongue, though others speak Afrikaans. The distinction between Namas and Oorlams has gradually disappeared over time to an extent where they are today regarded as one ethnic group, despite their different backgrounds.
Meet the runners who will take part in the 2016 Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun® HERE
Daily race images and reports will follow on the race day-by-day as the action unfolds via
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