The area around |Gomme-ais can be seen as a reminiscence of the eviction of the Hai||om from the park.
Waterholes & places of the Hai||om
An alternative journey through Etosha: Waterholes as cultural sites
Before the Hai||om had access to drilled boreholes, hunter-gatherers were profoundly reliant on natural water sources, so it is not surprising that the Hai||om distinguish between two permanent sources and three temporary ones: an |aub is an open fountain; a tsaub is more of a well, which must periodically be dug open and cared for to ensure that the water remains easily accessible. Other sites provide water only seasonally: a !khubib is a vlei, or pan, where water collects for quite a while after the rains. Depending on the amount of rain, for some days and weeks, or even months, water can also be found in potholes in rocks or caves, called ||garugu. The water also collects in hai‡khadi, holes in trees; it can be scooped up or, if access is restricted, sucked up with reed straws.
The Hai||om built their permanent settlements in the vicinity of waterholes where water was available the whole year round (|aub or tsaub). Thus, the waterholes which are nowadays frequented only by thirsty animals and observant visitors were important “centres” in the lives of the former hunter-gatherer inhabitants. Besides being reliable places for obtaining water for own-consumption, the waterholes also attract game, and were therefore popular places to hunt. The hunters hid in shelters nearby the water (!goas), waiting for the animals to arrive, mostly in the early morning hours.
So as not to disturb potential quarry animals, the settlements at waterholes where hunting took place were always located at least a hundred metres away from the water.
Many of the waterholes which were once used by the Hai||om have subsequently dried up, and those which required regular maintenance to remain open have fallen into disrepair, and are no longer visible.
At ||Khau‡goab, there are two palms and two waterholes, ||Khau‡goab and Aa‡goab. The Hai||om say the two waterholes are brothers.
||Khumub and |Nuaiseb are a pair of hills that are visible from a great distance across Etosha’s flat landscape.
In former times, ||Nasoneb (Rietfontein) was an important Hai||om settlement. Kadisen ||Khumub was born there in 1940.
The meaning of !Gaekhoo-aib is “the place to wash your !gaes (loincloth)”. It is the name of the river between Fisher’s Pan and the main pan.
‡Aro!gara!garases is a buffalo thorn tree close to Okaukuejo, which was given a swearword nickname by the Hai||om.
Places like ‡Gunub, where the water was too salty for human consumption, were useful to the Hai||om, as they provided them with salt, an important exchange resource.
‡Homob is one of the more important former Hai||om settlements. There were about 40 permanent settlements within the area subsequently defined by the 1970 park boundaries
During the 1950s, when the Hai||om had to leave their former settlements, locations were built, for example at Okaukuejo.
Mina !Noboses, born ||Gamgaebes, was born at Ombika around 1940. As she was a very small baby, she was given the nickname “Ticky”.
In the past, Tsînab, a natural well with a permanent settlement, was situated close to Halali, but it has been almost entirely forgotten.
Sore ‡Axab is a reliable source of potable water and it was also known to be a favoured haunt of lions.