The +Aodaman in the broader Damara grouping

12 October 2012
Author   |Awebahe J ||Hoeseb

SINCE time immemorial, before the Nama-tribal groupings migrated from the Southern Africa into what is today known as Namibia, and even before the arrival of the Bantu-groups from North Africa and Eastern Africa to the present-day Namibia, the +Aodaman and the other Damara-tribal groupings were living in this southwestern part of Africa.


According to the written accounts of the history of the Damaras which dates back the leadership of the Damaras as far back as the 14th century (1390), substantiated by archaeological and ethnological evidence reflected in those records, the Damara Traditional Community, including the +Aodaman Traditional Community, next to the San, are the first inhabitants of what is today known as Namibia.

It is speculated that the ancestors of the +Aodaman, like the rest of Damaras in Namibia, came to Namibia from ||Khaus (Equatorial Jungle) and !Akha+khib (Angola), centuries ago.

The Damaras settled between the Huri+naub (Kunene River) and !Gû||ob (Kavango River), before entering what later-on centuries long after the +Aodama settled in Namibia became known as |Nawe!hub (Owamboland).

The Damara Traditional Community moved southwards and were living peacefully in a single group in the area that is a stone’s throw and an eagle’s flight in the surroundings of the Brandberg Mountain, Paresis Mountains, the Waterberg Mountains, the Omatako Mountains, Otavi Highlands and the Erongo Mountains. Oral and written historical records have it that intruders, reportedly under the leadership of a certain Mukumbi, invaded that area around 1600, and clashed with the Damara Traditional Community.

The Damara Traditional Community members dispersed in splinter groups as a result of the aftermath of this battle wherein the then King of the Damara Traditional Community, Gaob |Narimab succumbed due to injuries sustained in that battle. The Damara splinter groups then settled all over the country in areas where there was an abundant water and shelter in the form of mountains.

? Remnants of the group that was led by Gaob |Narimab who dispersed moved eastwards and settled in the |Gopas (Kalahari Desert), and got the name |Gopanin.

? Another group remained in the |Khomas !Homgu, !Ao||aexas !Homgu, +Eros !Homgu and |Auas !Homgu and became known as the |Khomanin.

? The group that fled to the area around the !Oe+gâ !Homgu (Erongo) Mountains and settled nearby present-day |Â+gomes (Okombahe) got to be known as !Oe+gân.

? There were also two other groups that moved down the Tsoaxub River (Swakop River) and !Khuiseb River respectively, namely the Tsoaxudaman and the !Khuisedaman.

? Another group, the |Gaiodaman, moved towards the area of !Khuidi||gams (Omaruru) and Parase!homgu (Paresis Mountains), and later-on moved back to area west of !Hob (Waterberg).
During the 1904 wars with the German colonial forces, some members of the |Gaiodaman fled with the Ovaherero to present-day Botswana, whereas some settled at |Ugowas in the vicinity of !Hob (Waterberg Mountain).

? The major group of Damaras fled down towards the south, as far as the !Garib (Orange River) and settled in that area, and installed Gaob !Gariseb as their leader. This group moved back northwards around 1670, and settled at +Khanubes, wherefrom they moved and split into two groups, one of which settled in the vicinity of Xorohes (Tsumeb) and the other one led by Gaob |Narirab settled at |Haigomab!gaus, south-east of Otjituuo. The latter-mentioned group split up in four (4) factions:

• One group moved to the Hoaruseb River, and systematically down towards the Atlantic Ocean following the said river and settling on its banks, and they became known as the !Naranin and !Hoarusedaman respectively.

• The other group moved to the Huanib River, and inhabited the area of !Nani|audi (Sesfontein), and got to called by the name ||Huanidaman.

• The third faction moved towards the Dâureb (Brandberg) and got the name Dâuredaman and Namidaman.

• The last faction moved towards Anibira-ahes (Fransfontein), and Aro!hub area, and they were later joined by the +Aodaman who moved thereto from the Paresis Mountains.

The +Aodaman, who settled at Anibira-ahes (Fransfontein) lived in peace until a joint group of ||Khau|gôan and !Naraninaman (Topnaars) from the south and the Ovaherero from the north invaded that area, and drove off the original inhabitants with their superior gun-power.

When the German colonialists occupied Namibia, some ancestral lands of the +Aodaman were taken from them, especially in-between Outjo and Kamanjab, which is the area that the +Aodaman refer to as Aro!hub.

o Mount Etjo, Parases Mountains, Waterberg Mountains, Brandberg Mountain and the Otavi Mountains border the areas inhabited by the +Aodaman in the south.

o The northern border is the ||Hoanib River in the west, and the northern boundary of the Etosha National Game Park.

o The eastern border of the ancestral lands of the +Aodaman is the Kalahari semi-desert, inhabited by the various Sa-tribes, Ovaherero and the Tswana in present-day Botswana.

The majority of the present-day adult +Aodama living in the present-day Damaraland, identify mostly with farms like Otjikondo, Mem, Apes, Saratogas, |Naraxa-ams, Westfallen, Otjitambi, ||Khâiros, |Apaharos, Tsaurob (!Ganebpos), !Nams and !Nubes, but mainly with Aro!hub, which is the area bordering and around, as well as inclusive of the Etosha National Game Park, as places where they were born and bred.

The original sub-clans making up the proper +Aodaman Traditional Community are:
• ||Nuru||gammen – those who fled the flood or what is known as the Efunda
• +Aokhoen – people from the top – Daniben (Honey Damaran in +Khoaegu or Otavi Mountains)
• ||Nâuen – those whose delicacy were nut-like fruit
• Tu+gaben – the Damaras who live in and around Tu+gas (Etoshapan)
• |Nâuen – the ones who are living in an area which had in abundance a veld fruit, known as |nâus
• Tsaoben – the members of a Damara group who are living around the rocky outcrops close to ||Gaisis (literally meaning the “ugly one” – Lake Otjikoto)

Compiled by Mr. |Awebahe J ||Hoeseb, Special Adviser to Chief Petrus Ukongo of the +Aodaman Traditional Community, and Mr. Festus !Aseb, a Senior Traditional Councilor of the +Aodaman Traditional Authority


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