Namibia's variety of languages reflects the diversity of its peoples – black and white. Amongst the indigenous languages there are two basic language groups which bear no relation to each other, Bantu (eg: Owambo, Herero) and Khoisan (eg: Bushmen, Nama). The only language that comes close to being a lingua franca
Most black townspeople speak both Afrikaans and English in addition to their 'mother' language. In the more rural areas, Afrikaans tends to be more widely used than English (which may not be spoken at all) – despite the widespread enthusiasm felt for the latter. In the farming areas of the central region, German is also commonly found, as many of the commercial farmers are of German origin.
Following independence, one of the new government's first actions was to make English Namibia's only official language (removing Afrikaans and German). This step sought to unite Namibia's peoples and languages under one common tongue ('the language of the liberation struggle'), leaving behind the colonial overtones of Afrikaans and German. This choice is also helping with international relations and education, as English-language materials are the most easily available.
There isn't the space here to include a detailed guide to Namibia's many languages, although, if you are staying in a community for longer than a few days, then you should try to learn a few local greetings from your hosts. Whilst travelling, you are likely to come across unfamiliar words that are in common use in southern African English, many of Afrikaans origin. IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THIS ON-LINE CHAPTER
We are working very hard to put all of this Bradt Travel Guide online. However, there's such a lot of detailed information in the book, that this process is taking time.
We started loading this book online in 2006, and expect to have completed it about August 2006. Please check back regularly between now and then, and you'll find more and more information here.
Some chapters are already here in their entirety. This one is not yet. However, if what you are looking for is not here, then you might find useful information on some of these areas at expertafrica.com