Namibia ranks poorly for diversity

24 May 2019 | Cultural

For a country that is described by many as one of the most diverse in the world, Namibia has ranked fairly poorly in a new diversity index.

The Global Diversity Index ranks Namibia in 48th place among 125 countries, while neighbouring South Africa (ninth) and Mozambique (fifth) are the only southern African countries ranked among the top 10 globally.

The index looked at which countries around the world are the most diverse, weighing up everything from religious beliefs and multilingual communities to freedom for diversity.

The index based its ratings on the following criteria: The level of ethnic diversity, the number of immigrants, number of languages spoken, the number of religious beliefs, number of political parties, the level of religious freedom, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and freedoms and the level of personal freedom.

These criteria were then divided into four categories - cultural diversity, religious diversity, political diversity and freedom for diversity.

Each country was then scored out of five across each sub-category and overarching category. The four overarching scores for each country were then added up to get a final score out of 20, which was used to rank the countries.

Namibia received a total score of 10 out of 20 for its diversity.

It scored the poorest for 'democratic political system', which specifically looked at political choice (one out of five).

For 'religious diversity' it was also scored one out of five.

For 'cultural freedom' the country was scored four out of five and this category focused on ethnic diversity, immigrant population and language mix.

Under the category 'freedom for diversity' Namibia was scored four out of five. This category took into account personal, sexual and religious freedom and any form of discrimination.

Namibia has 13 ethnic groups that include the Khoisan and many others like the Owambo, Ovaherero, Kavango, Tswana, Himba, Caprivians, Nama and the Damara, the index said.

The number of individual languages listed for Namibia is 27. All are living languages. Of these, 22 are indigenous and five not.

The index said further that Christianity is the most widespread religion in Namibia, of which the largest denomination is Lutheran. About 80 to 90% of the population are Christians.

Meanwhile, Benin ranked first with an index score of 15. The West African country is home to 56 languages and is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world.

There are around 42 different African ethnic groups and Benin is also home to a melting pot of religious beliefs, ranking 10th in a Pew Research report into religious diversity.

The same report ranks Namibia 205th among 232 countries for religious biodiversity with a score of 0.6. This is among the lowest scoring countries for religious biodiversity in the world.

The diversity index ranks Belgium in second place, Suriname in third and Brazil in fourth place.

According to the index many European countries ranked as some of the least ethnically diverse, including the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

“At the other end of the scale, there was a large portion of African countries topping the list for ethnic diversity, including Benin, Chad and Kenya.”

The lowest ranking countries on the index in terms of diversity were Saudi Arabia with a total score of five, as well as Algeria (five) and Egypt (four).

ELLANIE SMIT