The meaning of some places in Oshiwambo (Part 8)

By Dr Petrus Angula Mbenzi
May 2014



Places referring to physical features


These place names include the geographical location, and the other features such as montaneous, forest like, treeless, presence of water bodies.  It also refers to the size and soil type.  I have divided the subcategories according to shapes, soil types etc.


Several places got their names according to their shapes.  One place in the Omusati region in called Okamanya(a place of small stones).  Another place in the Oshikoto region is called Ombuga(desert) because it is treeless and there is only grass.  In the Oshikoto region there is a place called Omulondo(a raised part of the place). The name comes from the verb stem londa(ascend, raise or climb).  Another place name which refers to shape is Omulonga(river). At this place there is a river that runs through it.  There are several place names that got their names from water bodies namelyOshana(a place of water pans), Onamukulo(a place of high ground), Oneputa(a place of uncultivated lands), Onakiidhi (a place of grass because this place has too much grass).


Okavugu:  It is the name of the village in Okatyali Constituency in the Oshana Region.  The name consists of the oka– a diminutive prefix and the stem – vuguwhich means sandy soil.  This village is too sandy and people become exhausted when they travel through it. The vehicles also get stuck in the sand.


Omakangois the name of the village in Ondangwa Constituency.  The place is full of water pans.  This is the reason why it is named Omakango(water pans).  Another village which is more or less than 40 kilometres from this village which is situated in the Oniipa Constituency is called Ekango(water pan).  In this village there is one large water pan which traverses the village.


Omulongais name of the river situated in Oniipa Constituency.  This is the river where the first baptism of the six Aawambo took place in 1884.  The parish which was established there was named Omulonga(river).  In the Okaku constituency in the Oshana region there is a village in which there are several dams, the village is therefore called Oondama(dams).


Several vleis are found in a village in Oshikoto region.  There is a village is called Omadhiya(vleis).  Another village in Oshikoto region in the Oniipa Constituency is called EpaleEpaleis a shallow bare place in the ground which has an impermeable bottom retaining clear water in the rainy season.  The normal word for this place is Oshipale, which belongs to class seven. The word has acquired the augmentative state therefore Epalemeans a very big oshipale.  In this village there is a big oshipaleand it is named EpaleEpaleis also the name of the district in which the royal family of Ondonga has its roots.  About 60 kilometers south east of Epaleone would come across the village called Omapale.  This village consists of the large water places hence it is named omapale (large water places).


Omatokele:  It means they are white.  It is the name of the water pans in Uukwiyu Constituency in the Oshana region.  The name refers to the colour of soil in this water pan.  These water pans were always white in colour when they were dry thus they were named Omatokele(they are white).


Omahenge:  The name of the village in Ongwediva Constituency in the Ohangwena region.  The soil in this village becomes wet easily.  Omahengerefers to the damp soil and such a soil is regarded weak and not suitable for crops.


Etunda:  The name of the village in the Okahao Constituency in the Omusati region.  Etundameans the raised part of the ground.  The village contains several omitunda(high lying places).


Embinzi: This is the name of the school in Oniipa Constituency in Oshikoto region.  It is named after the vlei which contained reddish water.  Embinzimeans blood.  The water was metaphorically referred to as blood because of its reddish colour.


Ondangwais the name of town 250 km west of Tsumeb.  It is situated in the Oshikoto region.  When people dug wells in this place they always produced salty water.  The saltiness in Oshiwambo is called Ondangwa.  The town is named after a well which produced salty water.


Oshilulu:  It is the name of the school, boreholes, in the Oshikoto region in the Omulonga parish.  Oshilulumeans brakish.  It refers to the brackish water which certain well contained.  The place, in which the well is found, was named Oshilulu.


Nuutoyeis the name of the borehole in Olukonda Constituency in the Oshikoto region.  The noun consists of morpheme -na(to have) and uutoye(sweetness).  Nuutoyeis therefore the name of the borehole which contained crystal-clear water.  In Oshiwambo, water which is fit for human consumption is regarded as sweet water.  PF