# 05 The Riemvasmaak community



Namibia’s “Damaraland”

… a multicultural experience

The story of the Riemvasmaak community is sad and takes us to South Africa’s dark apartheid area where under the umbrella of the so called black spot removal program people where send by brutal force to Namibia’s stony desert. Today, Namibia’s “Damaraland” – the local people still call it that way – is a multicultural place, where “Damara” is just one language of many other once. This is actually something important to understand. The term “Damara” is used (i) for a particular language as well as (ii) for “ethnical groups”. Damara is spoken by quite a few ethnical groups – the bushman in Botswana for examle speak Damara as well. In my later episodes I will introduce you to Damara, which live close to the border region of Botswana. They call themselves Nama Damara. The point I want to make is that these Damara groups are not always related and they have their own distinct culture. To make it even more confusing – the today called southern Kunene region, which was called by the apartheid government “Damaraland”, is in reality a multi cultural place. The people who live today in Damaraland, and this term is still used by the local people, have been brought here by force, and originate from many different South African regions. Today, people in “Damaraland” call themselves Damara, and many speak Damara, but in reality they have many different ethnical backgrounds. They all share the same sad story of South Africa’s apartheid history.
Lina Birkes speaks Africans and her name sounds even German. She is from the Riemvasmaak community and tells us her story.