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The Himba, Kaokoland

May 2007

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Early one morning whilst staying at Serra Cafema we had the the fantastic opportunity to visit with a family of Himba. The Himba are one of the last real nomadic pasturalist ethnic groups in Africa. An offshoot of the the more predominant Hereros, they still maintain the same lifestyle as they had hundreds of years ago. Given the harsh land in which they live, they only congregate in small family groups, herding the cows and goats which are their only source of food and water.

One of the most prominent features of the Himba is the red skin of the women. As soon as they reach puberty, they start to smear ochre into their skin and hair, none of which occurs locally and must be purchased from the few traders that wander through their territory.

A question that concerned me on the way there, and has since been asked of me by many others, is whether the Himba mind all these strange-looking foreigners coming to their camp and taking photographs, etc, and whether it is a form of cultural imperialism. And whilst I can't completely say that I was 100% comfortable, they were very friendly and seemed genuinely interested in meeting us. My guide Ricky mentioned that he had initially had similar reservations the first time he met them, but explained that given their nomadic lifestyle, the few strangers they ever see, and our odd habits, we were actually entertainment for them and they enjoyed our visits.

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5 comments so far (post your own)

this photo is nice. but i donot know the history.

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Sunday, 06.15.08 @ 16:53pm | #50264


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how do i visit these people and learn about their culture and where can i find them

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