The popular festivals in Namibia are marked by their two large deserts, the Kalahari and the Namib, as well as by the religious festivals. Although this is a Catholic country, Namibia also celebrates traditional events with ancestral origins.
Of all the popular festivals in Namibia, the Oshituthi Shomagongo celebration is one of the most representative in the country. This festival takes place during the harvest of the marula fruit which is used to make omagongo, a traditional drink from the north of the country.
But in addition to this festival, Namibians have a rather extensive calendar of events. Let’s look at this month by month and see what you will find during your trip.
As it is a Catholic country, Namibia celebrates the New Year on the 1st of January, as well as the Day of the Kings on the 6th of January. As these months coincide with the summer, popular festivals in Namibia during this time are full of outdoor celebrations.
Music, dance and songs are the highlights of this epic, and families congregate around traditional food and drinks. There are also gifts for the little ones and big celebrations in all the villages.
February and March
One of the most celebrated popular festivals throughout the country of Namibia is Independence Day. This day is celebrated on the 21st of March, and is celebrated with numerous banquets and festivals throughout the country. It is a day to remember that it is a democracy and that they are no longer under the yoke of German colonisation.
Namibia was colonised by Germany from 1904 to 1907, during which period a serious genocide took place against the Nam and Herero tribes. These populations are asking their government to seek compensation from Germany for these deeds. Nonetheless, despite the past suffering, Namibians celebrate their independence with great joy.
Between the end of March and beginning of April, one of Namibia’s festivals with the greatest connection to nature takes place: the Oshituthi Shomagongo. This celebration is recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage and is celebrated int eh north of the country.
A total of eight communities gather to harvest and make the omagongo. During the festival, the men carve cups from wood and gourds from which to drink the beverage. The women make clay pots and weave baskets in which to harvest the fruit. During two or three days, participants celebrated the existence of the fruit in a relaxed environment.
Also at the end of April, Namibians celebrate the Windhoek Carnival which takes place for a whole week. This event has a great deal of social relevance in Namibia and its celebration is of Germanic origin. In fact, this carnival is very reminiscent of the German Oktoberfest.
In May two festivals with historical-political origins take place in Namibia. On the 4thof May there is the Commemoration of the Battle of Cassinga, an event which remembers the killing of over 600 Namibian refugees by the South African Armed Forces.
The 25th of May celebrates the Day of African Unity, which is also a festival for the whole continent, and not just Namibia.
June and July
During June and July, popular Namibian festivals take place which are linked to the inhabitants and tribes scattered throughout the country. The Bosquimanos from north of the Kalahari Desert, the Nama, the Damara, the Himba, and the Ovambo. All attempt to keep their traditions and ancestral legacies alive through dance, songs and tribal festivals.
In August, some of the most colourful Namibian festivals take place on Hereros Day. This large ethnic group celebrates its commemorative festival in Okahandja around the 26th of August. The festivities are marked by many parades of warriors that commemorate the battles against the Germans and the Khoi-khoi tribe.
September and October
At the end of September the Harvest Festival is celebrated in many parts of the country. This celebration is strongly linked to the customs of the original native inhabitants of Namibia. At the other extreme, in October the Oktoberfest is celebrated, which is a clear influence remaining from German colonial times.
November and December
Although there are no large festivals in the country during November, the Oranjemund Diamond Festival takes place during this month. This festival is celebrated from the end of November to early December and has the objective of promoting the city of Oranjemund as a tourism destination for investors.
Apart from the above, Namibia also celebrates Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Families gather together around the dinner table for Christmas Eve dinner, and believers attend mass.
If you can make your trip coincide with one of these outstanding popular Namibian festivals, you will not only behold the beauty of the country’s landscapes but also its culture.