As many of you already know, studying African history and culture has become a passion of mine. So after taking another viral trip around the globe, I came across some very interesting information that I wanted to share. Meet the Himba tribe.
The Himba (Singular: Omuhimba or Plural: Ovahimba) are a semi-nomadic people in North West Namibia who are closely related to the Herero. The first settlements of the Himba people trace back to the 16th century. Their native language is the Otjihimba, and they have a population size ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 people. Known for breeding cattle and goats, in Himba culture a sign of wealth is the number of cattle you owned during your lifetime.
Himba women tend to perform more of the physical labor, taking on tasks such as carrying water to the village, building homes, and milking the cows. The men take care of political and legal tasks. The women are also known for rubbing their bodies in otjize: a mixture of butterfat and ochre, which is believed to protect their skin in harsh climates. The red mixture symbolizes the earth’s rich red color and the blood symbolizes life.
In regards to their unique hairstyle, young girls have two plaits (ozondato) of braided hair and just before puberty, the girls wear long plaitlets around their head. After the girls complete their puberty ceremony, known as the ekori festival, they’ll receive the ekori headdress made from tanned sheep or goatskin. Girls in some groups will have their head shaved except for a small bush at the top. And that shaved hair is then used to make plaits.
What I personally found interesting was the Himba’s spiritual beliefs. They worship their ancestors and the God Mukuru. Their homes are surrounded by an okuruwo (ancestral fire), with the fire representing ancestral protection; each family has its own ancestral fire.
If you’re familiar with the Himba people and have any additional information, please feel free to comment below. Here’s a short documentary that goes into more detail about this amazing tribe.
Until Next Time…
Schoenmaeckers, F. (n.d.). Himba Tribe. Retrieved June 18, 2019, from https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=34cb04bb9a7d44aa864da7532693a4ed
Fast Facts: The Himba of Namibia. (n.d.). Retrieved June 18, 2019, from https://www.namibiatourism.com.na/blog/Fast-Facts-The-Himba-of-Namibia
5 Interesting facts about the Himba. (n.d.). Retrieved June 18, 2019, from https://africageographic.com/blog/5-interesting-facts-about-the-himba/