This post is about Healthy Lifestyles – Visiting the Himba Tribe of Namibia. One can stay in an urban area and think of the many healthy lifestyles one can enjoy. Apart from visiting the gym and getting involved in sports or recreational activities, visiting the Himba Tribe of Namibia is a must for those with a healthy financial mind.
Namibia is found on the Western coast of Southern Africa with Angola in the northern direction, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in the Northeastern direction while Botswana and South Africa are found in the Eastern and Southern directions respectively.
The Himba Tribe is found in the Northwestern part of Namibia and contributes less than one percent to the population of Namibia, which is currently at 2,587,801 in 2020. This tribe originated from Southern Angola and crossed the Kunene River to look for land and livestock after the 14th Century. They have stuck to their traditions close to 500 years now and modern civilization has had little impact on their lives.
In the past when severe drought persisted, women were not allowed to use water for bathing and they would only fetch it for their men. Somehow, the women found another way of maintaining their personal hygiene in two ways.
The first one was to locate a kind of reddish soft stone which was on some hills or mountains around them. They ground the stone to powder by mixing it with milk or butter. Then they smear it all over their bodies to protect their skin from the harsh weather conditions of the Namib Desert, which covers 81,000 square kilometers. This skin powder also makes the bodies of the Himba women soft and smooth.
The second one was to use special herbs and burn them in a small container and allow the smoke to warm any part of the body or the whole body to the point of sweating. Then the body would be cleansed. The herbs being burnt provide a pleasant smell of perfume.
The village setup is like that of the Maasai village where the huts surround their animal kraal to protect their animals. Their kraals are fenced with thorns to prevent entry of unwanted personnel or predators. Near the kraal is a shelter where holy fire is kindled to present requests to their ancestors who in turn present the requests to the Mighty God.
The Himba women wear different hairstyles according to their ages although it is very difficult to tell their exact ages as most births are performed within their villages and no records of births are recorded or kept. They associate the date of birth with an incident that happened in that particular year. For instance, one would say that his or her child was born when or before the severe drought in the area occurred.
The Himba women have no particular schedule of chores in the home. It is clear that they work much harder than their menfolk just like the Maasai women. Apart from adorning themselves with the och re powder and other traditional ornaments, they help to milk the cows, fetch water for the men and collect firewood for the holy fire and for cooking.
The women also mix cow dung with soil and cover the poles of their huts after the men have put up the structures. They also cook for their husbands and their children. However busy they might be, they find time to beautify themselves by putting on makeup, wearing anklets and bangles or even thick, beady necklaces.
An open market is set up to sell their curios to tourists who find this tribe fascinating because of their isolation to the modern world.
The Himba people are welcoming and generous to the extent of the chief leaving his house for a night or two to accommodate the visitors who have come to his area. Sometimes his men are so pleased to receive visitors that they are willing to share their wives at a fee, of course. When the dawn of the new day comes, knowing looks appear on adults’ faces when they see the ochre on their visitors’ chests.
The Himba people are farmers who grow millet as they eat thick porridge from its flour. Maize flour is scarce because of the infertile soil for its growth.
The women’s hairstyles differ according to their ages. The young ones do not have more than two braided hair on their heads. As they grow older, their braided hair increases in number up to the marriageable age. Upon getting married, the women’s hairstyle changes to include the braided “peacock” style.
Wedding rituals are initiated by mothers of the bridegroom who convinces her son to settle down and start his own family by marrying a girl that his parents have chosen for him. The couple to be might have met before, but had no idea that they would spend their life together.
The bride’s mother prepares her daughter to get ready to be taken into another home where she would live with her husband. Somebody or a group of people would escort her husband to be so that she would be taken to go and live with his people. The prospective husband may be from the same village or a distant village. The girl is usually in a strange mood not knowing whether she would be wholly accepted by her in-laws or not.
Upon collecting his wife-to-be, the bridegroom does not travel with her back to the village. She would be escorted by her relatives and may even use a different route to her husband’s village. However, it is the bridegroom’s father who initiates the wedding rituals.
While celebrations of the wedding ceremony is taking place, the holy fire is being utilized to roast or cook the meat that has to be presented to the ancestral spirits for the marriage to be blessed and become fruitful. The woman has to bear more than eight children to reach the respectful status of a woman among the Himba. In the meantime, the wedding celebrations include feasting, dancing and drinking alcohol.
However, the burial ceremonies present a somber mood among the villagers. However, elders recommend the burial of a respectable man by including many horns of cattle fixed on his grave. That encourages the surviving men to aspire to acquire as many cattle as possible. The more cattle the deceased owned in his lifetime, the more cattle they can slaughter to fulfill a big feast during his burial.
Many tourists who reach the Himba Tribe appreciate their warm reception and their curiosity to interact with different strangers. It is one spot where your somber mood can be transformed into a cheerful mood within a short time.
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