The mysterious Lone Men of Namibia

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The story of the Lone Men of Namibia is a mystery wrapped up in an enigma.

These stone men – or rather, sculptures – are scattered all over the country, and known as Lone Men, Art.

They have been spotted in Puros in the South, Van Zyl’s Pass in the East, Otjinungua in the North and even in the Skeleton Coast National Park in the West. And for many travellers it has become a treasure hunt to find these Lone Men of Namibia; in fact, you know about it, it has become one of the highlights of things to do in Kaokoland.

Lone Men of Namibia
Lone Men of Namibia

Each life-size sculpture is made from rock prevailing in the area, and depicts a different personality. In the dry remote landscape of Kakoaland, with its unforgiving climate and temperatures, you will see them (that’s if you can find them).

Some are standing, some are sitting, some are on their knees with their hands in the air and there’s one holding on for dear life from an overhang.

Lone Men of Namibia

But unlike most artists who display their name on their creations, the Lone Men of Namibia has no name connected to it. The sculptures each have a number on it and a message saying where the figure is heading.

Rumour has it that sculpture nr. 37 was found, but that’s not to say all 37 have been spotted yet, or that there are only 37 sculptures.

And it all begs the question: who is the artist?

No one knows.

The artist-with-no-name has managed to secretively construct, create and place these stone figures all over Namibia’s long forgotten landscape of silence, and it has become an open-air gallery that draws the spectator into the environment and emotions of each sculpture.

Of course, it also begs a few other questions. Why do these sculptures look so lonely, so haggard? How many are there? Are there more sculptures to be discovered? And is the artist still creating more?

No one knows.

And maybe that is the beauty of it all, the unknown wrapped up in the mystery.

If we knew all the answers, will it ruin the elusiveness, the intrigue, the mystery and the magic that lives in these stone figures scattered across the wild West of Namibia?

Do we want to know who the artist is, what the story is, how many sculptures there are and where these Lone Men in Namibia are all located?

Maybe not.

“Every mystery of life has its origin in the heart.”
― Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Lone Men of Namibia 1
Lone Men of Namibia 2

This story about the Lone Men of Namibia was adapted and translated from our Afrikaans sister publication, VroetelVoete.

Thank you to House on the Hill and Lanie Du Raan Badenhorst for the use of your photos.

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