This past weekend my school celebrated their annual Culture Day. The event took place out at the large sports field by the school and two schools, in addition to ours came to participate in celebrating the Nama culture.
The Nama tribe is one of many different tribes in Namibia, with the majority of Nama people living in the southern regions. Like other Namibian groups, the Nama have a unique history and culture, which was featured and celebrated during the event.
The whole day was vibrant and full of colour from the traditional clothing. The women were dressed in traditional Nama dresses, many made like a patchwork quilt with different bright colours, patterns, and textures. Equally colorful scarves were wrapped around their heads and since it was cold (we are entering the middle of winter) small quilts called a !kon were wrapped around their shoulders.
I also wore my traditional dress I was given as a gift from my host family back in October for the swearing in ceremony. My principal helped to tie my scarf, lent me a !kon to stay shielded from the wind, and even let me try some of the traditional perfume Nama women wear.
Each school had a cultural group made up of around eight to twelve learners that performed Namastap, the traditional Nama dance. The dancing is incredible. First off, these kids can move, as they show me almost every day at school. Secondly, the footwork of Namastap is impressive. It’s quick and precise. The dance is set to traditional keyboard music and also involves partnering between the boys and the girls.
In addition to dancing, our school’s culture group also performed a skit explaining the purpose and tradition behind the various clothing items Nama women wear. It was all in KKG, but with my limited knowledge of the language and translation help from my principal and other teachers, I understood.
Between the performances of the different groups, there were opportunities for other children and the teachers to dance. I managed to avoid being dragged to the center to dance because I was the photographer of the day. Not that I didn’t want to dance, it’s just that even the toddlers can dance circles around me here.
I learned a lot about Nama culture and my community yesterday. I was so happy to see everyone come together to celebrate their culture and I am very thankful to have been a part of it. I am happy to live in such a vibrant and accepting community.
And who knows, maybe next year I’ll dance too!