THE HIMBA PEOPLE of NAMIBIA


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Africa » Namibia » Kaokoland
December 1st 2006
Published: December 7th 2006
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BEFORE YOU READ ON: COULD YOU PLEASE do me a big favor and SEND ME A MESSAGE (click on send private message or comment at the bottom ) AND LET ME KNOW HOW YOU FOUND THIS BLOG. This is important. THANK YOU.


The African animal kingdom attracted me, but from the early stages of my planning for this trip to Namibia, without a doubt, my greatest desire was to get to know, even if only a little, the people of the land, and in particularly the Himba people.

Here, south of Etosha, I could meet the ovahimba who have migrated from the far north region of Namibia, the Kaokoland.

What I came here to really experience was African people and culture, and the Himba people fascinated me the minute I read a little about them. Now I was about to be among them.

Another incredible campsite, just for our group of 8. "Lovely", like the girls here would say, with a very strong accent, which I'm starting to catch!

After lunch, it was super hot and nobody wanted to climb the rocks by the campsite, except for me. I am too impacient to just look at beauty, when I see it and I know I can experience it even more. So, I climbed it all by myself. Was the climb in the heat worth? Absolutely!!!! An amazing view from the top, including of the Himba village tucked into the greenery.

At 4pm we all hiked to the small Oase Himba community. Our guides stayed behind, as only Himba guides are allowed in the village.

Small round mud huts with straw roofs formed a circle. In the center of it, a fire area which is kept constantly burning, a few trees, and a bunch of naked or semi-naked kids playing around.
The sounded of crying kids erupted fairly often, as they took turn pushing or hitting each other. Sometimes the only way to tell boys and girls apart is the hair: boys with shaved or semi-shaved heads and girls with hair braided from back to front (until they get their second period. Than, it's braided front to back!)

WOMEN:
The estatuest women, naturally bearing their breasts, were stunning! Striking skin smeared with a mixture of animal butter, ash and ground ochre, gave them a reddish color. This mixture serves as a natural sun-screen. Even the 45 year old queen looked extremely young. I know a lot of people back home who'd love to get the stuff in their quest to stop, or fool, the aging process.
This skin care product" is applied every month or so, thus instead of water, the women "bath" is done daily without water. For 3 long hours, they clean themselves with a "portable sauna". A little pot with burning tigs from a bush. That includes the cleaning of the private areas!

HAIR: Peculiar style, plastered with the same mix, and changed only every 3 months!!!

JEWELRY: several necklaces, a large shell. The one thick leather necklace, or the one with shell, aren't used if the mother is breastfeeding young infants; bracellets, anklets.

PERFUME. a Natural black ground herb; actually smelled very good.

BIRTH: in the woods, where other women go to help.

MARRIAGE: arranged when boys are about 19 and girls 13. It's expensive to wed a daughter, as fathers have to give 3 cows to the groom's family. If he wants to take the girl away from the village, 5 cows gotta go.

I heard that in the last years, more Himba men leave the village, and while away, they contract AIDS, which they bring back to the wives. Yeap. Himba do get AIDS, but usually not the treatment for it.

TEETH. When Himbas are 12 years old, 4 front bottom teeth are knocked down on a single struck. The reason? To speak the language better!!!!!

TOBACCO like, sniffing. Yes, I did try it when it was passed around the circle, and I sneezed right after. Not bad actually, I must confess!!!!

KIDS. Both sexes get circunsized when about 9 to 10 years old. Boys can than go on the field after that.

"My girl" was a sweet girl between 8 and 10 years old, who followed me around. While I was seated inside the hut learning about the traditions of the Himba, she touched my hair, rolled strands between her fingers. Later, as I was leaving the community, she initiated a "hair attack" on my hair, similar to the one I had been a "victim" under the hands of Tibetan Nomad females. Here, several girls started to pull several strands of my hair, and in response to the escalating pain of the pulling, I ended up on the ground, while my hair got braided by many girls, all laughing and having fun.

The contact of the Himba with tourists, like myself, is a topic of controversy. Conservisionists believe we will interfere with their traditional lifestyle and should be leave them alone. On the other hand, others believe they can't deny them contact with civilization and the opportunities which can come with engagement

So, trying to respect as much as possible, no gifts were given, and taken, were only pictures.

The women and kids were so happy to see the replays of their pictures on the digital camerals, exclaming: "Uhhhm, Uhmmm""

I walked out of the village last, and that's when the girls touched my hair, etc.
Crossing the fance, the Himba guide waited for me. I privately asked him if it would be okay/ethical, to take polaroid pictures to give to the women, without crossing the boundaries of respect for their culture. He said: "That will make them so happy, as people shoot the pictures and leave".

Now I had as "my private guide" a girl ("Cency") in western clothing. She is the only member of the village who goes to school and she can speak English.

As night fell, we could hear the Himba people clapping and singing. Were them dancing? Celebrating? Were the men back from hunting? I could still feel their presence, even though I was no longer in their world, as I shouldn't. Part of me still wander, if I should ever been there to start with, if I had impacted them negatively in any way.

Already inside my perfectly located tent, I heard shouts: "It's a tiger snake!" "I missed it." "It's poisoning.". Oh, Yes, it's a scorpion." It got away".
Diane and I freaked. There was no way we were going to sleep at that spot knowing all those creatures were by our tent. The guides thought it would be safer to move both our tents closer to the campfire. They, the guisdes, slept on top of the truck... afraid!!!

By 11:15pm the clapping of the Himba stopped, the night fell silent, and another Namibian day ended, with more memories engraved in my heart.

Again, I wrote lots (too much?). But this was a spetactular day. I hope the pictures will tell about the people beyond my words.

PS: If you ever go to Namibia, please respect the Himba. Lets help them preserve their culture.

COULD YOU do me a big favor and PLEASE SEND ME A MESSAGE AND LET ME KNOW HOW YOU FOUND THIS BLOG and THANK YOU.
Patricia


Additional photos below
Photos: 31, Displayed: 26


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Woman's ankletWoman's anklet
Woman's anklet

Men make them for the women to protect against snake bite
Boy eating maize mealBoy eating maize meal
Boy eating maize meal

Later I saw a goat eating from the same pot!
Mother breastfeedingMother breastfeeding
Mother breastfeeding

Babies seemed to feed constantly
Mother breastfeedingMother breastfeeding
Mother breastfeeding

Babies seemed to feed constantly


7th December 2006

Impressive
Pa, I'm very impressed. What an experience! When I see you in such remote places of the world (from my point of view) I realize how little I've seem, experienced. Thanks for sharing. I love your e-mails.
10th December 2006

Hello friend
This trip has been truly incredible. Remote worlds have so much to review and show again how much we could live without, in terms of material stuff. The first step towards going places is to really want to go. Thus,... With love, Patricia
11th December 2006

from pi
pôxa irmã, assim é lasca né? as fotos estaõ LINDASSSS! Parabéns! beijos, pi.
11th December 2006

De fotografa pra fotografa, eh?
Obrigada pelo elogio. Coming from a photographer, it's an honor. Love you lots. Pi
14th February 2008

Good
Very good travel. Hope you like it.
21st February 2008

amazing
Yes, I enjoyed it a lot. It was incredible to experience a little of "still intact culture. Thanks for visiting my blog.
11th May 2008

himba men?
i have been looking on the net at pictures of himba people for a little while now and have yet to see one pic of a himba man...only women and children...what's the deal? are the himbas the fabled amazons of greek lore? haha...
11th May 2008

No Himba Men ...
Yeap! There wasn't a single man in sight. I actually asked and was told they stay away taking car of the cattle but arrive at night. In the middle of the night I could hear singing and was told that the whole tribe gathers around the fire, men included. i hope you can find 'your" men somehow.
11th September 2008

where are the men?
Hi there, nice photos! I spent a couple of months with the Himba doing research for a friend's thesis. Most of the young men stay away at the cattle posts and don't come back that often unless there is a problem. They move around a lot to find grazing land for the cattle and they split up in case one lot of cattle contracts a disease so that it doesn't spread to the others. The chief and the older men of each household stay at the kraal most of the time with the women and kids.
12th September 2008

H1mba Men
Thanmk you for the 1nformat1on. I am amazed at how many thousands of people continue to read my entries on the himba. As for my photos, 0 even got a request to use them to promote breastfeeding 1n Africa. That,s an honor for me. Take care. Patricia
21st October 2008

Do they go to modern school?
I have gone through the pictures, needless to say, they are amazing! I realized some modern items like a watch on one womans hand. I imagined they don't go to school, how does she use the watch, if anything what was your medium of communication?
22nd October 2008

Your answers about the Himba People
Hello Thanks for reading my blog, and before I answer your question, I have a question for you: HOW DID YOU FIND MY BLOG ON THE HIMBA PEOPLE? I am very curious because of my many blogs, this is the one which has had over 15,000 hits, and over 800 people continue to visit the blog monthly? I wonder if it got links to it!!! I do get lots of compliements on the pictures. Ok, to your answers now: There were VERY few items from us, "civilized" people at the village. Only ONE girl from the tribe wore "westernized" clothing and went to school. She is in one of the pictures with me. She was the only person who spoke some English, besides the guide. He does not live there, and he spends very little time there with small groups like mine, any it's not a daily thing. The contact with tourists is kept to a minimum, which is a great thing. Even safari guides are not allowed in the area. I was able to spend some extra time alone (actually there was one of my friends I got permission to come with me) among the women and the children. "The girl" was than my interpreter. Please don't forget to answer my question, ok? Keep in touch Patricia
16th November 2010

best people
the himba people the best because living free
22nd November 2010

true
yes, although not entirely free from interference from modern life, good and bad.
27th November 2010

Its so natural
These people are in tune with Nature and their world. Barebody breastfeeding is natural as it has always been for thousands of years before.
3rd January 2011

vai irmã
VAI IRMÃ, CORRE O MUNDO, VEJA PESSOAS,ROUPAS,COMIDAS,COMPORTAMENTOS,RELIGIÕES,CHEIROS,ODORES,SABORES E DESABORES. E, DEPOIS...ME CONTA CONTA TUUUDO, QUE EU ADORO, E, TÔ AQUI PRÁ ISSO. TE AMO SEMPRE,PI
11th December 2011

Himba
After reading and seeing pictures of the Himba people, I have become obsessed. I find the women the most beautiful natural women in the world. It is remarkable how they are able to thrive and raise children under the difficult conditions. I live in the US and I wish I could visit them one day. Thank you for the photos.
5th January 2012

Incredible Himba women
I have traveled around the world and the Himba women are truly unique. Amazing that they can still preserve their ways, beautifully.
31st March 2012

My people
I found your blog when i was trying to find pictures of the ovahimba people for a school project. I am a Herero from Namibia currently staying in Canada. why i decided to do my project about the ovahimba people was because I want people to know more about where I come from and the beauty of my people. The ovahimba and ovaherero people are very smiler, they speak the same language all most gut in different ways and they have different traditional cloth. the Herero's live more in the modern way today. I am happy that you took the time to go through that great experience, and the pictures are amazing I love them.
6th April 2012

So very glad...
Tjarirove. It means a lot to me that a Namibian enjoyed my blog abaout The Himba. This has been the most visited blog of all the ones I have posted, and many years later I still get approving messages about it. :-) Thank you for letting me know your thoughts. Patricia
11th July 2012
Baby playing with moms hair

What do you mean...
"Film"??? I don't know what you mean but I can tell you this is one of my favorities photos.
14th November 2012

himba hair
I found site by clicking on a automatically populated search term , "himba hair", Your site is listed on the first page. Great site, thanks!
17th November 2012

Thanks...
Thanks Ashley. Glad you enjoyed the blog.
5th December 2012
Me and "My girl"

Interesting
Just watched a BBC documentary on a woman who spent 4 weeks with the Himba People. Afterwards I went to wikipedia which is where I founf your link.
8th December 2012
Me and "My girl"

Carrie
Thanks for letting me know.
10th December 2012

I found this blog incredibly informative. There is the story behind these striking people and you are able to tell almost everything that comes to mind when seeing the pictures. When you see a picture of a himba woman, you ask yourself so many things and this blog was able to capture almost everything and the cherry on top provide pictures as well. Well done!!!
12th December 2012

Dear Jabu...
I am so glad I was able to capture enough during my brief encounter with the Himba people, to convey a glimpse to their world. Thank you for the feedback. :-)
19th December 2012

himba and herero culture
the ovaherero and himbas are originally from together. we came from far north of Africa many years back and as we came close to Angola some group says we will rest a bit, others were hungly and says they will request foods there around in Angola and others goes on with the trip until north part of namibia. i think foregners are also looking for history our people particulary ovahimba no vaherero wina.
6th May 2013

O POVO HIMBA da NAMÌBIA
Você me fez viajar para fora no dentro que em mim existe. As sagradas , únicas e tantas formas de VIDA, e de VIVER. O RITMO DE HUMANIDADE.... Eu te respeito, brava PATRÍCIA.
14th May 2013

Ahhh Katia...
Que bom despertar algo positivo. Lembrei do papai, de compartilhar com ele minhas andancas. Bjs
15th May 2013

Thanks I like what you have said to the public , I am Namibian
You have said all but Himba don't use goats skin as clothe, they only use calf skin or sheep skin mostly. I am pure Himba too though I went school,.
4th October 2013

very very impressive ,quiet interesting too..Do these women know anything about the menstrual cycle and what to they use ?why don't they have schools in their villages though?
10th March 2014

Very Nice
Dear Madam , I find your blog bit late however it is not too late to acknowledge a very nice blog indeed. BHARAT KADGE
27th November 2014
Himba boys playing see-saw

Request for copyright
I am busy writing a module on turning effects (moment) am looking for local example to use (Namibia). Am hereby requesting permission to use the picture of the Himba boys as an example. The picture will be used strictly for educational purposes. Please forward me the copyright information so that I can reference and acknowledge it accordingly. Thank you in advance.
18th December 2014
Himba boys playing see-saw

Use of picture
Yes, if for education purpose. I sent u an email

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