Languages of Namibia
Namibia, despite its scant population, is home to a wide diversity of languages, from multiple language families: Indo-European, Bantu, and the various Khoisan families. During apartheid, Afrikaans, German and English held the position of official language; however, after independence from South Africa, Namibia's new government made English the sole official language in the constitution of Namibia. German and Afrikaans were stigmatised as having colonial overtones, while the rising of Mandela's Youth League and the 1951 Defiance Campaign spread English among the masses as the language of the campaign against apartheid.
The most widely spoken languages used in households are Oshiwambo dialects, by 48% of the population, the Khoekhoe language by 11%, Afrikaans by 11%, Kwangali language by 10% and Herero by 10%. Other native languages include the Bantu languages Tswana, Gciriku, Fwe, Kuhane, Mbukushu, Yeyi; and the Khoisan Naro, ǃXóõ, Kung-Ekoka, ǂKxʼauǁʼein and Kxoe. English, the official language, is spoken by less than 1% of people as their native language. Portuguese is spoken by 4–5% of the total population, i.e. 100,000 people, made up mostly of the Angolan community. Among the white population, 60% speak Afrikaans, 32% German, 7% English, and 1% Portuguese.
Indigenous languages are included in the school syllabus at primary level. From secondary level English is the medium of instruction. Afrikaans is the only language that comes close to a lingua franca, and is spoken by most black townspeople together with English and their native language.
Distribution of Oshiwambo
Distribution of Khoekhoe (also known as Nama or Damara)
Distribution of Afrikaans
Distribution of Otjiherero
Distribution of Kavango languages
Distribution of Caprivi languages
Percentage distribution of households by main language spoken
- "Namibia Travel Guide". Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- Brutt-Griffler, J. (2002). World English: a study of its development. Multilingual Matters, p.165. ISBN 1853595772
- "Languages Spoken in Namibia". About Namibia. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- Lewis, M. Paul (ed.) (2009). Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. SIL International.
- "Portuguese to be introduced in schools". The Namibian. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
- Pütz, Martin (1995). Discrimination through language in Africa?: perspectives on the Namibian experience. Walter de Gruyter, p. 315. ISBN 311014817X
- 2001 Census
- 2011 Census