A day in the lives of communities living in rural Namibia

In our Nonviolent Journalism course, 2023, we set participants the task of producing a photostory on a topic of their choosing. Rosemary’s story, below, is a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people in rural Namibia.

Living in the rural area or countryside as it is called in other parts of the world, is no mean feat due to the daily struggles that inhabitants face. This can be something as simple as access to basic facilities such as a water tap or pump, toilets, schools, clinics or shops.  Some issues may seem very trivial to those living in cities, but for these communities having running water is regarded as a luxury. A quick glance at life in the Zambezi Region of Northern Namibia can be very intriguing for the inquisitive mind.

The local residents speak a lingua-franca called Silozi although six languages are spoken amongst them. The same language is spoken in Western Zambia and it has links to other dialects spoken in Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa. The Zambezians are crop and livestock farmers and also earn a living from fresh water fishing.  The staple diet in this part of the world consists of maize porridge also known as pap, fish, meat and vegetables. Most traditional homes are made from wooden poles and grass that are plastered together with mud.

A traditional mud and grass/thatch house

According to traditional beliefs, one’s wealth is measured by the number of herds of cattle you own. Herding cattle is a man’s everyday chore.

Preparation of food is the responsibility of women and it is done on open fire. Families also spend the evenings discussing issues and telling stories around the fire

A backyard garden is a must-have for families. It supplements their diet and income as well as promoting food security at household level. Tending to gardens is the responsibility of women and children.

The Caprivian/Zambezian traditional cuisine consist of tilapia fish (fried or cooked), soft porridge known as “pap” accompanied by a sauce and any green vegetables

The community relies on the traditional butchery for their daily fresh meat/beef supply. Most families purchase meat on a daily basis because they have no means of refrigeration.

Men are responsible for clearing the crop fields and mending fences in preparation for the next ploughing season

Drawing water from the family well is everyone’s responsibility

Most roads are paved with gravel, although they get very muddy and sometimes impassable during the rainy season

Leisure: The local hanging out spot is a bar/shebeen/pub which also serves as a convenient shop for basic commodities

Rosemary Nalisa