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People and the River



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Stories told by the people of the Kunene basin illustrate the importance of water in the region's culture. By clicking on the links below, you will find poems, stories and interviews about drought scoping strategies, water use and management as well as rainmaking.

The environment has inspired story telling since ancient times.
Source: © Rasetti 2003
( click to enlarge )
  • The tales told by elders are a good way of getting an insight into the population's strategies to deal with water scarcity. In April 1994, the Himba elder and oral historian Mbatjanani Kapika told ethnologist Michael Bollig during an Interview in Omitengundi (Namibia) his story about his group’s coping strategies during periods of drought.
  • Water resources are also a common subject of Himba praise poems which are mostly performed in emotional contexts, such as funerals and weddings, and contain ancient oral knowledge about places, lineages, biographies, historical events, animals and natural resources. The presented Epupa Praise Poem describes the Epupa water falls and the historical persons and animals living in its surroundings.
  • The rich set of oral traditions of the people in the middle reaches of the Kunene basin contains the fable The Man-Eating Monsters and the Well. The short plot gives an array of different lessons about water use and management, including:
    • The basic need and right of everybody to access water;
    • The issue of how to use the water for different purposes by different users;
    • The importance of joint development and management of the resource; and
    • The importance of keeping potable water safe for drinking.
  • Mr. Guilherme Santos tells about Rainmaking Myths and Rites in the Kaculuvar sub-basin of the Middle Kunene.

To read more stories about water in the southern African region, please consult the Water Book of The Southern Africa Water Wire, a joint multi-media platform of IPS and the SADC/DANIDA Regional Water Sector Programme about water management issues in southern Africa.




Explore the sub-basins of the Kunene River

Video Interviews about the integrated and transboundary management of the Kunene River basin

View a historical timeline of the Kunene basin countries, including water agreements & infrastructure

Video scenes about the limited access to water of the San in Kunene Province