South Africa Travel Tours
South Africa is on the southernmost tip of the African continent with several distinct ecosystems. Inland safari destination Kruger National Park is populated by big game. The Western Cape offers beaches, lush winelands around Stellenbosch and at the Cape of Good Hope, forest and lagoons along the Garden Route, and the city of Cape Town, beneath flat-topped Table Mountain. 

Namibia is in Southern Africa, bordering South AfricaBotswanaAngolaZambia and the Atlantic Ocean. Formerly a colony of Germany, Namibia was administered by South Africa under a League of Nations mandate after WWI, and annexed as a province of South Africa after WWII. The South-West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) launched a guerrilla war for independence in 1966, but did not gain independence until 1990.

Namibia boasts remarkable natural attractions such as the Namib desert, the Fish River Canyon ParkEtosha National Park and the Kalahari desert. Its people speak nine different languages, including some of the Khoisan languages which include the ‘clicks’ that present an enigma to most native English-speakers. Namibia produces some of the world’s highest quality diamonds.

Some of the earliest archeological evidence comes from the first migration into Namibia around 850 BCE. People, now understood to be Ovambo, San, and Herero moved into Namibia over the next centuries, bringing ironwork and pastoral technologies. Some groups like the ǂAonin appear in the archeology record and oral histories but have faded into other groups since colonization. The Germans arrived in earnest in the 1880s. Through a process of military domination and coercion, the Germans took precarious control of much of central Namibia (at the time called South West Africa). This colonization was fought by the Witbooi and Herero clans, along with others. In 1904, the Germans and Herero fought the Battle of the Waterberg–leading to the Herero defeat. The Hereros and Nama were given the choice: flee into the Kalahari (were water holes were heavily guarded by German soldiers with orders to shoot to kill) or become part of the German labor machine and eventually succumb to the Herero-Nama Genocide from 1905-07.

South Africa (British colony) defeated the Germans in SWA during World War I. In 1921 the South Africans were given a mandate over Namibia from the League of Nations. South Africa stayed long after this mandate expired. The South Africans attempted a more vigorous control of the territory than the Germans ever had. This included forced relocations (moving Africans to land which was not fertile in an attempt to make them dependent on the state). In the 1950s, apartheid policies championed by the Nationalist party in South Africa were introduced in Namibia. Many Namibian revolutionaries to appealed to international organizations and international courts.

In the 1960s, bullets and bombs began to fly between SWAPO’s armed wing and the SADF. This corresponded with labour strikes, including miners and teachers in Namibia and South Africa (along with the United States’ Civil Rights Movement). By 1988, it was clear that SWAPO (with assistance from the Cubans, Russians, and Angolan Liberation Fighters) was going to win. International favour–including from the USA–had turned against apartheid South Africa. Plans for an independent Namibia began to be drafted. Sam Nujoma, the leader of the revolutionary movement was elected president of Namibia in 1990. Namibia has continued to operate a one-party electoral democracy since that time with SWAPO majorities continuing to be elected. Yet, like elsewhere in southern Africa, the limits of reform–particularly on the issue of land rights– and the increased vote of young people who were not part of the liberation struggle are perhaps beginning to chink away at the support for SWAPO.

It is important to be aware that race is a common part of Namibian discourse. Namibians will refer to the race of others more frequently than travellers from places where race is typically not an issue. Because of apartheid, race is an issue in many spheres of life, so it comes up a lot. In spite of this, the various races do get along well in Namibia, and it is fairly uncommon to find racial tensions flaring. Apartheid was never implemented as strictly in Namibia as in South Africa, so racial tensions are generally lower.

Namibia is similar to South Africa, and if you’re used to travelling in one country, travelling in the other country is quite easy. There are some subtle differences. For example, in South Africa a non-white person may choose to speak English rather than Afrikaans (as a political choice) whereas among Namibia’s mixed-race population (who call themselves ‘colored’ in Namibia and South Africa) Afrikaans is a proud part of their culture, and many people still speak German. Overlooking these differences isn’t going to cause offence, but they’re handy to know.


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