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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #35 of 54: Mozambique | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #37 of 54: Niger »

August 10, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #36 of 54: Namibia

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
36. NAMIBIA
Flag of Namibia

Formal Name: Republic of Namibia.

Term for Citizens: Namibians.

Capital: Windhoek. Population: 216, 000.

Independence Achieved: March 1, 1990, from South Africa.

Major Cities: Windhoek.

Geography:

Namibia covers an area of 318, 695 square miles. Namibia is in South West Africa. It is bordered by Angola, Botswana and South Africa and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is mostly desert, Kalahari, with coastal regions that have some rainfall permitting agricultural activities. Rainfall in the best areas is less than 15-18 inches a year. Grass grows in this area and livestock is grazed on it. More than half of the people live in the northern third of the plateau and most of them work for the mining companies around there. Diamonds and uranium are mined.

Society:

The population of Namibia is estimated at 1,987,000.

Ethnic Groups: Namibia has many ethnic groups but the major ones are: Ovambo, Kavango, Herero, Tswana, Nama and Khoi/Bushmen.

Languages: Ovambo, Herero, Nama, English, German and Afrikans.

Religion: Christian, and indigenous beliefs.

Education: Free primary education. Literacy rate is estimated at 84%.

Economy: Mining of diamonds and uranium plays key role in the economy. Large commercial ranches produce most of the livestock. White persons mostly own these ranches. Africans generally find work working for white ranchers or for mine companies. GDP estimate: $12.6 billion; Per Capita GDP: $6, 900. Monetary Unit: Namibia Dollar (NAD).

History and Government:

Germans came to what was then called South West Africa in the 19th century. They encountered numerous African groups living in the area. In an attempt to wrestle the land away from the people, Germans killed over 80, 000 Hereros of central Namibia. German settlement continued until the first-world war. As a result of the defeat of Germany in that war, Namibia was taken away from her and given to South Africa as a League of Nations mandate territory. South Africa attempted to incorporate the territory into its union and that provoked wars. Moreover, South Africa’s practice of Apartheid led to clashes between whites and blacks. After a protracted war, Mr. Sam Najuma and his guerilla group, SWAPO won independence in 1989. A presidential form of democracy was established in Namibia and so far seems to be holding well. Namibia is divided into 13 regions.


CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS


The earliest people that lived in the areas now called Namibia were the Khoisan/Bushmen. The various Bantus groups migrated to the area during the great Bantu migration during the fourteenth century. The Germans came during the late 19th century and proclaimed the area a German colony. With the defeat of Germany during the First World War, South West Africa, as the area was then called, was given to South Africa as a League of Nation’s mandated territory. After the Second World War, South Africa became an outlaw nation, embraced apartheid policies and annexed South West Africa.

In 1966 a group calling itself South West Africa People’s Organization, SWAPO, declared war on South Africa and the war for Namibia’s independence is on. That war lasted until 1990 when South Africa itself began to put an end to its Apartheid policy. Namibia gained its independence and drew up a new constitution that called for a president, a national council, a National Assembly and independent judiciary at the top of which is the Supreme Court.

Namibia was divided into 13 regions, which in turn are subdivided into 103 constituencies.

The economy of Namibia is thriving and is well managed. The economy is dependent on minerals, such as diamond, Uranium, lead, zinc, tin, and tungsten. Agriculture is modern, although it is mostly in the hands of white farmers.

On the whole, Namibia has made smooth transition from her long and protracted struggle for independence to a well managed economy. However, the land question has not been settled. White farmers still own choice agricultural lands and Africans work for them. Many Africans are calling for land redistribution. However, in light of what happened in Zimbabwe, it would seem that the governments go slow attitude on this matter is the right thing to do. Nevertheless, sooner or latter the land issue must be addressed.

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at August 10, 2006 10:01 AM

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