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The Living Museum of the Damara
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Hunter-gatherer culture of the Damara

Reinhold Messner and the Damara

A traditional Damara hut from our Living Museum close to Twyfelfontein – ordered by the famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner - is traveling around half the globe – from the Namibian Desert to the South Tyrol Alps.  Read here how it all came about. 

The actors of the Living Museum in front of the tradtitional hutThe actors of the Living Museum in front of the tradtitional hut

One of Reinhold Messner’s new projects is the Messner Mountain Museum (MMM) in South Tyrol, an unusual museum project with five different locations in northern Italy. He addresses the relationship between men and mountains, elaborates on the different mountain and glacier landscapes and informs about alpine history. The RIPA Museum at the castle Bruneck im Pustertal, investigates different mountain peoples (ex. Tibetan, Indian and Sherpa).

A small part of the collection will now be dedicated to the traditional Damara. Although they are in the truest sense not a mountain people, the original name given by colonialists of South West Africa “Bergdaman” bears reference to mountains.

Artefacts of the traditional DamaraArtefacts of the traditional Damara

The Damara, originally mainly hunter-gatherers, politically never formed larger group – similar to the Bushmen. With the first colonisation of Namibia by the Bantu immigration wave from the north, which they were not able to counter, they were driven from their lands and fled into barren mountainous areas of north-western Namibia, mainly into the Brandberg and the desert area of the Kunene Region.  They still lived in those areas when they were “discovered” by the first European immigrants, who called them “Bergdaman”.

The hut before deconstruction for transport reasonsThe hut before deconstruction for transport reasons

Reinhold Messner, who was referred to the Living Culture Foundation by the Namibian tour operator Bwana Tucke-Tucke, heard about this name.  The MMM ordered a traditional hut and different commodity items of the traditional Damara like calabashes, hunting tools, bellows, hides, etc. and  LCFN took over the handling and transport to Windhoek. From here the Namibian logistic company Transworld Cargo took over. In April 2011 the artefacts will be sent to Italy and will hopefully advertise the Damara Living Museum and Namibia as a travel destination.

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