The Himba ethnic group  have kept their ethnic individuality and culture in the seclusion of Kaokoland. This   ancient tribe of semi-nomadic pastoralists live in the Kunene region of northern Namibia. There are between 20,000 and 50,000 Himba people. 
                                 Himba people

The friendly and extraordinary Himba people are closely related to the Herero people but they have resisted change and preserved their unique cultural heritage. About 240,000 Herero people live in Namibia, Botswana and Angola. They belong to the Bantu group of African nations. 

The Himba and Herero speak the same language. The Himba are  a pastoral people. They predominantly breed cattle and goats and lead a nomadic life.Depending on the time of year, they move with their herds to different watering places. Milking of animals as well as other jobs like bringing water to the village and building homes is done by women.
                              Himba people

The Himbas were impoverished by Nama cattle raiders in the middle of 1800's and then forced to be hunter-gatherers. Because of these events they were called the Tjimba, derived form the word meaning aardvark, the animal that digs for its food. Many Himbas fled to Angola where they were called Ovahimba, meaning 'beggars'. They left with their leader called Vita (''war''). After World War 1 he resettled his people in Kaokoland. Since these events the Himbas were living their nomadic pastoralist lives. But now more and more they have to reconcile traditional ways with European values.

                                                  Unofficial Himba chief

One of most interesting rituals of these people is that of the ritual fire, the ''okoruwo''. The fire provides contact between the living and the dead, which is necessary for harmonious living and keeping the ancestors happy. It is kept alive until the death of the headman. When this happens, his hut and the fire is destroyed. His family dance in mourning throughout the night. Before his burial everyone says to him: "Karepo nawa" (''keep well''). Later a fresh mopane tree is lit from the embers of the old fire. Women raise children too. There is a situation that one woman in the community gets a task of raising children. So, she raises children of her own and those of other women in the community. Men on the other side are more involved in political and legal matters.

                                 Himba woman in her traditional dress.

Clothes, hairstyle and jewellery are all of particular significance to the Himba and are part of their tradition and culture. Even newborn babies are adorned with pearl necklaces. When the children are a little older, bangles made of beaten copper and shells are added. The proud Himba women take several hours for beauty care every morning. The entire body is rubbed with a cream, which consists of rancid butterfat and ochre powder. "It has to be said that Himba women do not wear lot of clothes. To somehow protect themselves from the sun they make a paste of butter fat, ochre, and herbs which they later put on their skin. That is why their skin is of reddish colour. The Himba believe that this colour is beautiful. It also has symbolic meaning as it unites the red colour of earth and blood which is the symbol of life. The hairstyle worn by Himba women is also quite unique. The hair is braided ("weaved") and covered with the special ochre mixuture called "otjize". Before reaching the puberty girls have only two hair braids. After the puberty they are allowed to make more of them. Single Himba men have only one braid backwards from the crown of the head. When they get married keep their hair tied in the shape of a turban."

                         Himba woman and her son

Himba women have a rather interesting way to make them smell nice. How do they do it? They slowly burn certain aromatic plants and resins and use the smoke created to perfume and clean themselves. The Himba wear lot of leather jewelry. They often combine it with shells. Western style of fashion appears too but only on men. Both men and women walk topless. They wear skirts or loincloths made of animal skin. Adult women wear beaded anklets. They are used to protect them from snake bites.
                             On the Move Again (Carrying only the essentials, a Himba woman totes her baby, sleeping skin, and gourds for fermented cow's milk. As the Himba trek from permanent homesteads to temporary grazing lands, the walking women churn milk into butter in the gourds they carry.)
                              Himba woman bathing her child
Both boys and girls are circumcised before reaching puberty. During the circumcision boys should be silent and girls are encouraged to scream. The Himba believe that this act makes them ready for wedding. As soon as the girl is born, her future husband is decided. They get married when the girl is between 14 and 17 years old.
                                            Bridal Party 
Every member of certain tribal community belongs to two clans – a "patriclan" (through the father) and "matriclan" (through the mother). It means that the Himba people have a bilateral system of descent. On top of each clan there is the eldest man of the clan. Sons live with their father's clan. When girls get married they move to the clan of their husband.
 Himba woman and her baby

Inheritance of goods is done with the domination of the matriclan. Let's imagine that a man dies. His son will not get the cattle that belonged to the deceased. Instead the uncle (mother's brother) will become the new owner of the cattle.
                                Himba Girl standing by her kraal
In everyday life the Himba people worship the god Mukuru and their ancestors. The fire-keeper is an important person in every family. He keeps the family ancestral fire burning. Every 7 to 10 days he uses the fire to communicate with the Mukuru and family ancestors. The direct communication with the Mukuru is not always possible. The Himba believe that the Mukuru is quite a busy guy so the family ancestors operate as his representatives.
                           (An old woman suffering from chest pain throws down her head as a healer with a calabash tries to draw a spirit from her body. For everyday "illnesses of the flesh," such as snake bites or wounds, the Himba use medicinal herbs or go to Western clinics and hospitals. For chronic or life-threatening illnesses they turn to healers, who exorcise spirits. More and more, women turn to other women in group trancing or healing sessions that anthropologist Margaret Jacobsohn thinks help them cope with rapid changes in their society—expanding tourism, the increased importance of the cash economy, children going to school, the growing influence of the national government—that are redefining their roles and undermining their authority.)


4,305,243 views, Published 1 yr ago
By patrickcerpentier1

Himba Namibia

Himba Namibia

The Himba live in relatively isolated communities. They manage to survive and keep their traditions despite harsh desert environment they live in. The nature has not always been their only problem. Let's mention just one example. In 1904 they suffered from genocide organized by German colonial authorities led by Lothar von Trotha (1848-1920).
                                               Himba sub-chief and his kids
In 1980s the drought killed almost all of their cattle. They became refugees in the town of Opuwo. Since the 1990s their position has improved. Many of them live now in the nature protected areas. They can again live freely and have some use from the tourists. But new trouble appeared on the horizon. Namibian government plans to build the hydroelectric Epupa dam on the Cunene river. Many believe that building of the dam could create floods and seriously endanger the survival of the Himba.

                                 Himba women and their Children in the city

The Himba: Namibia's iconic red women

By Errol Barnett, CNN and Tim Hume, for CNN

                                                                  Beautiful Himba woman
For years, an ancient tribe of semi-nomadic herders known as the Himba has drawn photographers to Namibia's barren northwest.
As a result, the striking image of the Himba -- if not their name -- has become known far beyond the remote, unforgiving Kunene region where they eke out a living tending livestock.
                                                                Himba girl

The reason for this is otjize, a paste of butter, fat and red ochre -- sometimes scented with aromatic resin -- that Himba women apply each morning to their skin and hair, giving them a distinctive red hue. The sight of traditional Himba women has become an iconic image of Africa.
                                                                  Beautiful himba with her body applied with Otjize

There has been much speculation about the origins of this practice, with some claiming it is to protect their skin from the sun, or repel insects. But the Himba say it is an aesthetic consideration, a sort of traditional make-up they apply every morning when they wake. Men do not apply otjize.
                                               Himba family at their kraal

Although it is constantly jeopardized by development, including proposed hydroelectric projects, many Himba lead a traditional lifestyle that has remained unchanged for generations, surviving war and droughts. These customs can be glimpsed today in the village of Omarumba, where around 20 people live under the leadership of chief Hikuminue Kapika. The Himba are open to outsiders coming to witness their way of life, but ask for a contribution from visitors in return -- in this case, maize, coffee, tea, cooking oil and $25 donation.
As pastoralists, cattle are central to the lives of the Himba -- just like their relatives, the Herero, who are renowned for the headwear of their women, which resemble cattle horns.
                                   Himba woman lulling her child

"We pray for rain to come and our cattle to multiply"~
Hikuminue Kapika, chief of the Himba village of Omarumba, northern Namibia

                                   Himba women

In the center of the village is a pen where young cattle, sheep and goats are held, while more mature animals are left to roam the periphery. Every morning, after the women have applied their otjize, they milk the cattle, before the young men of the village lead them out to graze. If there is nowhere to graze, the village may relocate, or the young men set up a temporary village with their stock.

The past year has been dry, says Uvaserua Kapika, one of the chief's wives, and the village is concerned about the welfare of their livestock.

"Last year, it rain(ed) a lot and I was very comfortable. This year, I don't know what to say... I pray to God as the animals are dying."
The homes of the Himba, who number between 30,000 and 50,000, are round structures constructed of sapling posts, bound together to form a domed roof which is plastered in mud and dung.
The most important part of the Himba village is the "okuruwo," or holy fire. Kept continuously alight, the holy fire represents the ancestors of the villagers, who acts as intermediaries to the Himba's god, Mukuru. The chief's is the only house whose the entrance faces the fire -- all the others face away -- and it is important for outsiders not to walk in the sacred area between his house and the fire.
                                                             Himba woman and her family

At night, an ember from the fire is brought into the chief's hut, then used to kindle the flames again in the morning.
Chief Kapika said he would regularly sit by the fire to interact with his ancestors. "We pray for rain to come and our cattle to multiply," he said. "He must bless me with more followers as a chief."
Said his wife, Uvaserua Kapika. "This is the place we pray to our God in heaven. In this place, you can get healed. Everything is performed here." 
                Himba young girl

          Himba woman and child

                himba girls at a supermarket in Namibia

                                        Himba girl with a beautiful smile

                                   Himba people clapping their hands


                       Himba girl with braids

                                 Himba boy with an awesome hairstyle

                                               Himba boy with his two-way braid style

                                      Himba baby boy with his tribal hair-cut

                                         Himba beauties

                                     young children of Himba tribe

                                           Young girl of himba tribe with beautiful braid

                                      himba boys

                                     Two Himba brothers

                                          Himba girl posing with her braids

                                                  Himba boy

                                          Himba girl 

                                                     beautiful braids

                                  Himba man with his tribal hairstyle

                                 himba little girls with their tribal braids

                                Beautiful Himba lady

                            Himba women

                                                      Stylish himba boy

                             stylish Himba boys

                                            Himba boy in a nice pose

                                          Young Himba girl

                                              Himba boy

                                           Himba boy

                                  himba girl

               Himba kids

                               Himba People

                                              Himba boy


                      Himba tribe boy

                                  Himba boy and a girl

Africa | Portrait of a young Himba girl | © Andre Roberge

                                      Himba girl

                          Himba girl

                 Himba girl in her house.

                 Himba kids taking their donkey home

                       Himba boy and his baby brother

                          Himba woman

                     Young Himba boy

The Himba are a proud people who hold onto their age-old traditions despite outside influences.

                                 Beautiful himba girl

The villagers live in cone-shaped huts made with mopane saplings plastered with mud and dung.

File:Himba Boy.jpg

File:Namibie Himba 0714a.jpg

For Himba women the use of otjize is not so much for sun protection as a way to look beautiful.

                              Two Himba girls

The red-tinged women are bare-breasted and wear leather skirts with intricate headdresses.

Women work hard building ongandas (homesteads), gathering firewood and carrying water.

Women rest by the fire to laugh and swap gossip between daily chores around the village.

                                   Himba girls having fun

                               Beautiful Himba women with her hair braids

                       Himba lady

                       himba girl

 Himba young woman

                    Himba girls in their hut

                                          Himba boy

                    Himba boy

              Himba girl with beautiful braids hairstyle

                              Two happy Himba girls

                             Two himba girls hugging

Himba woman with baby

Himba women

                              father and son

                       stylish himba girl

                              himba boy

Himba carrying their babies

                             himba women

                                Himba kids

                        Himba boy with beautiful hairstyle

                                                   himba boy

photo source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterschnurman/4511243826/in/pool-1203002@N20/


  1. You are so beautiful!! I am from Kenya, Taita Hills and we lost all our cultural dressing. Guard yours.

  2. Very Impressive, they look so relaxed and have none of our stressful lives. Envy them a lot.

  3. Uncle J B, Tarkwa, Ghana: This is real tradition & culture, but some does not speak well of Africans but the whites likes them too much, especially the natural settings. May God the creator bless u.

  4. Thank you very much! As an African fashion designer, I always wondered what the real African dress is.The motto of my label is "Femininity Empowered" and these women are truly the embodiment of that motto: they look strong, proud and confident. I am so inspired by this and would surely like to use some elements of these styles to feature in my next clothing line.

  5. Didn't have time to read it yet, but what a spectacular collection of pictures!!! All peoples are beautiful, but the Himba really stand out. This is how humans are meant to be, I wish we could all still live like this. :)

  6. This is a grate work and culture I wish i can paint some soon


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