The home of the Owambo people, once known as Ovamboland, is today divided into the Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto regions. These regions are now often referred to as the four 'O' regions and offer visitors a chance to experience daily life in Namibia.
The dead silence of the desert, the myriad of stars at night and the emptiness that stretches to the horizon in Namibia provide an awe-inspiring antidote to the stress of life back home. With a population density of only 2.5 people per square kilometer, it is possible to drive for hours across the vast landscapes without encountering another soul. However, this is not the case when traveling through the world of the Owambo, where the life explodes just along the edge of the road.
Ron Swilling, a local writer and photographer, recently set out to explore this stirring region and had this to say, “Just when I thought I was getting to know the intriguing country of Namibia, I paid visit to the north and discovered a part of the country that was utterly unlike the rest. My days in the north unfolded in a wave of new sensations, tastes and information as I became immersed in the Oshiwambo culture and way of life.”
The Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead in Tsandi is the former home of King Tatekulu Josia Shikongo Taapopi, the twelfth king of the Uukwaluudhi. It is a typical (but much larger) Owambo homestead surrounded by a mopane-pole palisade with various huts inside. The royal residence provides a unique cultural experience and insight into understanding the customs and beliefs of the Oshiwambo speaking people.
Sit in the Center of a Baobab
It is a holy experience to sit in the center of the king of trees, all the more knowing that it has a long legacy of varied functions. The Ombalantu baobab tree was once a refuge for the Ombalantu people, who are said to have made a hole in its trunk and climbed down into its hollow depths during tribal wars. It was subsequently used as a post office before being converted into a chapel. Now a heritage site, the historic baobab still holds this spiritual presence, providing a place to rest on the journey and sit in the silence of the king of trees.
Sample Shebeen Life
A colorful array of shebeens, also known as cuca shops, are scattered along the roadside of Owambo, their quirky names adding humor and character to the Namibian landscape. The shebeens of Southern African townships began as small households transformed into places where people could stop for a drink, hear the latest news and listen to music. Over the years, as shebeens have become an important part of Southern African culture, as centers for discussion, dance and entertainment. These hubs of culture add to the character and charm of Namibia.
Visit the "Share My Owambo" page to receive more information about Owambo through the eyes of a local Namibian.