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Sites of Veneration

Auas Mountains | Windhoek | Namibia

There are 2 stone-heaps just to the south of Windhoek in the Auas Mountains, known as Prayer Mounds. They serve as another palpable reminder of past Namibian culture. These Sites of Veneration were formed by stones piled upon each other, and no Khoekhoe would pass such a site without paying their respects.

Deference would be shown by placing a branch, a stone or perhaps a handful of grass on the mound. A verbal request for a 'safe passage' would follow - loosely interpreted as a prayer. Protection against bad luck for the remainder of one's journey was ensured, providing the wayfarer did not look back.

The Herero had a custom to make a detour around these sites; 'ombindi' was their term, meaning to 'go around'. The Bergdama name for such mounds was 'to bury' and they regarded these Prayer Mounds as grave memorials. The Damara equivalent meant to 'pile or heap up' in a disorderly fashion.

These stone-heaps were also seen at border posts. Even today, Herero pilgrims treat these 'border' mounds with much respect by putting little stones on the graves, or by touching the stones already in place.

The 2 large Sites of Veneration were proclaimed a national monument on 1st September 1955. They are situated some 2km 'behind the last houses of the Windhoek suburb Olympia' on municipal lands in the Khomas Region. Moltkeblick is the highest peak of the Auas mountain range, and can be reached by a days hike from Windhoek.

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