The Kavango

Forming the border between Namibia and Angola for more than 400km is the Okavango River, lifeline of the Kavango people, who make a living from fishing, cattle farming and cultivating sorghum, millet and maize on the wide fertile plains on either side. Closely related to the Owambo, the Kavango also originate from the large lakes ofEast Africa.  They first settled near theKwandoRiverinAngola, moving south of theOkavangoRiverbetween 1750 and 1800.Today the Kavango consist of five individual tribes.  Each tribe is ruled by a traditional chief or chieftainess, assisted by headmen.

The chief has the overall ruling power over his tribe and custodial power over the land that falls within the jurisdiction of that tribe. The traditional economy in Kavango is based on a combination of horticulture and animal husbandry.  An important local industry is woodcarving.  Much of the population growth in the Kavango has been due to immigration from Angola.


The main town in the Kavango Region is Rundu, situated on the banks of the Okavango River.  This is the home of Namibia’s well-known Kavango woodcarvers.  Their ancient craft, handed down over generations, is a flourishing industry today.  Wooden carvings are made ad offered for sale at the Mbungura Woodcraft Cooperative, which has its main workshop and office in the town. Rundu is much more than a refueling stop. Situated in the north-eastern corner of Namibia this rapidly growing town is the main administrative center of the Kavango region. 

As frontier town, Rundu is set to become the hub of trade and development in the north, especially with rebuilding efforts in Angola and the Trans-caprivi highway that links the country and its main port in Walvis Bay to the rest of Africa. With its diverse cultures and people, comes the skills and talents to develop Rundu into a dynamic commercial centre.