Society

Languages Of Namibia

Oshiwambo is the most widely spoken language in Namibia while English is the official language of the country.

Namibia, a country in southern Africa, gained independence from South Africa on March 21, 1990. The San, Nama, and Damara peoples were the indigenous inhabitants of the country. Later, the Bantu immigrants arrived in the country during the Bantu expansion. Since then, the Bantu people, known as the Ovambo people became the major inhabitants of Namibia and the language, Oshiwambo, spoken by them, is the most widely spoken language in the country.

Namibia was occupied by the German forces and was a colony of the German Empire from 1884 till 1915. After the First World War, Namibia was mandated to the United Kingdom by the League of Nations and was administered by South Africa. During this time, the Afrikaans and English were made the official languages of the country. In 1948, the apartheid regime was also applied in Namibia. After years of unrest, Namibia obtained full independence from the rule of South Africa in 1990.

Namibia is currently a country of 2.1 million people and is scarcely populated due to the vast Namib Desert occupying a large part of its territory. However, despite its sparse population, Namibia has a rich linguistic diversity and languages belonging to Indo-European, Khoisan, and Bantu families are spoken here.

Official Language Of Namibia

During the apartheid regime in Namibia, the three languages of English, German, and Afrikaans were designated as the official languages of Namibia. However, after Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990, the new government of the country allowed only the English language as the official language and mentioned the same in the constitution of the country. The language is now used in the government administration of the country and is the medium of instruction in schools and universities. However, the schools of Namibia are facing a shortage of teachers proficient in the English language, and a report reveals that 98% of the country’s teachers lack sufficient training in the language.

Indigenous Languages Of Namibia

Oshiwambo is spoken by a majority (48%) of the population of Namibia, especially the Ovambo people settled in the area previously known as Ovamboland. The language is also spoken by the people of Angola and has about one million speakers in total. Migrant populations of workers from Ovamboland to other parts of Namibia also speak this language in their homes.

The Khoekhoe language is the second most popularly spoken indigenous language of Namibia and is spoken by about 11% of the population of Namibia. The Afrikaans language has about the same percentage of speakers. 10% of the Namibian population speak the Hereo language and the Kwangali language.

Several other languages are spoken by smaller percentages of the Namibian population like the Bantu languages (Fwe, Kuhane, Yeyi, Tswana, Mbukushu) and the Khoisan languages ( Naro, Kung-Ekoka, ǃXóõ, Kxoe).

Foreign Languages Of Namibia

As mentioned above, English is the official language of Namibia. However, the language is spoken by less than 1% of the population of the country as their native language. 4% to 5% of the population, mainly the Angolan community, speak Portuguese. Among the whites of Namibia, 60% speak the Afrikaans languages. German is spoken by 32% of the whites, 7% speak English, and 1% speak Portuguese.

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