Cultural heritage refers to the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of the Namibian society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage includes tangible culture (such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts), intangible culture (such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge), and natural heritage (including culturally-significant landscapes, and biodiversity).
The deliberate act of keeping cultural heritage from the present for the future is known as Preservation (American English) or Conservation (British English), though these terms may have more specific or technical meaning in the same contexts in the other dialect.
Cultural heritage is often unique and irreplaceable, which places the responsibility of preservation on the current generation. Smaller objects such as artworks and other cultural masterpieces are collected in museums and art galleries. Grass roots organizations and political groups, such as the international body UNESCO, have been successful at gaining the necessary support to preserve the heritage of many nations for the future.
Objects are important to the study of the Namibian history because they provide a concrete basis for ideas, and can validate them. Their preservation demonstrates a recognition of the necessity of the past and of the things that tell its story. Objects draw people in and give them a literal way of touching the past. This unfortunately poses a danger as places and things are damaged by the hands of tourists, the light required to display them, and other risks of making an object known and available. The reality of this risk reinforces the fact that all artifacts and heritage sites are in a constant state of change, so that what is considered to be preserved is actually changing – it is never as it once was. Similarly changing is the value each generation may place on the past and on the artifacts that link it to the past.
|The name Namib is of Nama origin and means "vast place".|