Friday, February 19, 2016

Himba Tribe, Opuwo and Spitzkoppe, Namibia, February 18, 2016

The Himba tribe is found in Angola and the northwestern corner of Namibia.  They are semi-nomadic pastoralists, raising sheep, cattle and goat for meat and milk.  The animal pen is in the middle of the village-

while the huts form a circle around the outside-

In the hut, women stay on the right side and do all the cooking while men stay on the left.  The man sleeps on the 'pillow' (yes it's wooden!) while the woman sleeps on his outstretched arm-

Right of the pillow is the washing machine.  Sage is smudged and clothes (animal skins) are put on top to clean them.  Once the smoke has wafted through, they are 'clean'.  Define clean I say!

To "bath" they hold the burning sage close to their bodies to allow the smoke to waft over them.  THEY DO NOT USE WATER - EVER!!

The holy fire is used by the chief to speak to the ancestors who in turn speak to God.  It is placed between the animal pen and the huts-

At age 11, their bottom 4 teeth are removed using a stick and stone.  The stick is pounded into the mouth.  As you can imagine, it's extremely painful and no drugs are used.  Apparently it helps them to speak more clearly-

The boys are also circumcised at birth or up to age 6.  Girls are not circumcised but wear a couple of braids in their hair-

and loincloths-

until womanhood when they add extensions, oil and ochre to color their hair and bodies-

The decoration on the top is made from dried animal hide-

The leg decorations are metal and protect the women from snake bites.  One stripe indicates she has one child and two stripes mean more than 2-

Women are topless but wear a lot of jewelry-

and animal skins-

Bracelets, necklaces and ornaments are available for purchase.  Ochre really changes the color of their skin-

Men can have more than one wife, providing he has the cows to give to her family.  Divorce is possible and if a husband dies, his brother inherits the widow and her children.  There are around 50,000 Himba living in Africa.

Children attend school learning English-

for 2 hours/day.  Today they were learning body parts-

The young teacher had a stick that she used to poke and prod students who were not doing what they should have been.  The school rules are posted on the classroom wall-

It was a surreal experience visiting the Himba because I couldn't help but wonder what they think of us, our clothing and our cameras.  They always wanted to see the pictures we took of them.  Their way of life seems so simple and hopefully it can continue in this rapidly changing world.  

Leaving the tribe, we headed south through the Namib Desert-

A lot of the land is fenced for cattle but it's hard to say what they eat!  The Brandenburg Mountain is the highest in Namibia at 2573 meters.  Big deal I say-

More desert and the Spitzkoppe and Pontok Mountains-

We are camping amongst these mountains-

Walking home we ran into him-

Not sure what kind of snake he was but was about 5 feet long.  He crawled into this dead bush and curled up.  Stupid me,  I got really close to the bush trying to see him so was pretty lucky that he was more scared of me than I was of him!

Looking forward to Cape Cross seal reserve and a REAL bed for 3 nights in Swakopmund!

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