Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Damaras (properly Damaqua), the inhabitants of Damara or Herero Land, south-west coast of Africa, which for ages has been a debatable region between the Bantu and Hottentot races, the former advancing from the north (Obampoland), the latter slowly retreating southwards on the low-lying coastlands, and holding their ground in the uplands of the interior. Hence the twofold division of the present population into "Hill Damaras" of the Kaoko highlands, who are of Hottentot speech but of mixed Hottentot-Bantu descent, and "Cattle Damaras" or "Damaras of the Plains" who are pure Bantus. and whose proper name is Ova-Herero, the Merry People. These reached their present homes about 200 years ago from the region beyond the Cunene river, passing southwards between Obampoland on the coast to the Kaoko Hills, and here ramifying into two branches - the Ova-Mbandem, who went eastwards in the direction of Lake Ngami, and the Ova-Herero proper, who penetrated southwards nearly to Walfisch Bay. Here they came into collision with the Hau-Khoin, or "True Hottentots" of the hills,. and the warfare thus begun between the two races. has been carried on almost incessantly ever since. The Ova-Herero, physically a finer people even than the kindred Ova-Mpo, are essentially a pastoral nation divided into numerous tribes or castes (eanda), whose headmen acknowledge the authority of the paramount chief of Damaraland. They have long been in close contact with the whites, and many have been evangelised, especially by German and Finnish missionaries, though they still practise certain pagan rites connected with nature-worship. Like their cattle they show a strange dislike of salt. Chief Ova-Herero tribes: Kamaherero, Therawa, Kaoingava, Kambazembi, Kamwati, Kandju, Omugunda, Ova-Mbanderu, Kukuri, Ova-Tyimba, with total population (1891), 92,000. (See Francis Galton, Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa, 1853; M. Andersson, Tales of Travels in South Africa, London, 1875; and Petermans Mitterlungen, 1885-91.)