RICHTERSVELD NATIONAL PARK : NAMA PEOPLE  
     
  THE NOMADIC NAMA:  
 

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In general the Nama practice a policy of communal land ownership. Music, poetry and story telling are very important in Nama culture and many stories have been passed down orally through the generations. The Nama have a culture that is rich in the musical and literary abilities of its people. Traditional music, folk tales, proverbs, and praise poetry have been handed down for generations and form the base for much of their culture. They are known for crafts which include leatherwork, skin karosses and mats, musical instruments (such as reed flutes), jewellery, clay pots, and tortoiseshell powder containers. Nama women still dress in Victorian traditional fashion. This style of dress was introduced by missionaries in the 1800s and their influence is still a part of the Nama culture today.

Today, the Richtersveld National Park is one of the few places where old ways survive. Here, the Nama still move with the seasons and speak their language. The Nama people live in three small villages - Kuboes, Lekkersing and Eksteenfontein.

 
     
 
NAMA HUTS: MATJIESHUIS, A TRUE NAMA ART
Ideal for the nomadic Nama life of the past, the matjieshuis is still part of the Richtersvelders’ lives today. In fact, this is the last place where we can still find them in significant numbers - a testimony to their suitability to the harsh climate, as well as to the strength of cultural traditions in this remote mountain desert. In today’s villages in the Richtersveld, matjieshuise are used for storage, cooking, as an additional place to sleep, or even to provide accommodation for the more curious tourists.

These huts, called !haru oms in Nama language, are made of beautifully woven reed mats in a beehive shape. It really is a dwelling for all seasons - cool and well ventilated in the hot summer, naturally insulated by the grass mats in winter, and protected from the rain by the porous stalks that swell up with the water. Because all materials are organic and not over-harvested, this is a dwelling that respects the environment. Women and men participate in harvesting the materials, preparing the mats, and assembling the hut, in a careful and meticulous process that has remained a true Nama art.

 
     
 
 
matjieshuis