Kaokoveld is Namibia’s most north-east region, and quite possibly the most remote. It is home to two of Namibia’s most fascinating tribes, the Himba and Herero. I was particularly interested in visiting and learning more about the Himba tribes. Due to the remoteness of this region, the Himba have largely been left alone. They still live today much as they have been for hundreds of years.
When I travel I know I will learn something new. I don’t always know what, where or when. I do know, it is always something about myself. That is, other than renewed patience!
The first lesson: there is nothing wrong with being different, to other cultures and tribes. In being different, there is also a sameness. Himba people live off the land, use natural products and have a very strong sense of self. They are very proud people, and love living the way they do. To survive this way in a ‘modernising’ world (I use this term very loosely) social structure is very important. This social importance is obvious amongst the Himba.
The second lesson: beauty and the art of looking after oneself is not vanity. It is about health as much as it is about social inclusion. Himba women never bathe with water, ever. They use a special ochre-tinted soil mixed with animal fat to cover their bodies and smoke from incense to perfume themselves. The mixture they cover themselves with acts as a natural sunscreen, but more importantly it is believed the colour represents ‘from where they come’ – the earth.
The third lesson: the more I travel this amazing planet, the more I am beginning to conclude people are all the same, but different. In every tribe there is the shy one, the overt one, the funny one, the friendly one, the grumpy one, the salesman, the dodgy one, the know-it-all, the carer, the pessimist, the optimist…
If this culture intrigues you as much as it does me, have a look at my Himba Women visual story (in 3 parts).