The Himba, also known as Ovahimba or Muhimba, along with the Masai, are one of the best known and most photographed tribes in Africa.

Currently this tribe lives in the Namibian desert, specifically in the arid Kunene region and in the Kunene region in southern Angola.

Despite having had to face various military conflicts over time, the Himba have fought to preserve their traditions, in fact, to this day, they remain a semi-nomadic people and their economy is still based on livestock, whose value It is not only economic, but also social and religious, since the number of heads of cattle marks the status and social hierarchy.

The villages where they live are called «kraal» and have a tribal chief, who is their spiritual leader and who also makes decisions regarding the community. It is the women who take care of the home, the children and the crops together with the livestock; so it is usually strange to get a man when visiting the tribe.

Their villages are usually made up of two or three families who share the lands of the same town, they also practice polygamy, however, the maximum time that a man can spend with the same wife without attending to another is two nights.

 

The cult of the body

Since boys and girls have a distinctive hairstyle that will change at each stage of their life, they are indissoluble. For example, when men marry, the wandu, a leather cap reveals their new married status, it has to remain forever attached to the husband’s head.

As for women, when they are girls they comb their hair with two braids that divide their heads. At the time of becoming women and looking for a husband, they make a headdress made of tanned skins.

Himba women are also distinguished by the reddish color of their skin and their ornaments; To beautify their skin, they smear their entire body with a paste made by themselves made up of animal fat and reddish powder that they get by crushing a stone with a high iron content.

Fire has a sacred character among the Himba since it is the channel to communicate with their ancestors.

 

Customs and beliefs

  1. Each child, before being born, already has his own song that will accompany him throughout his life as a symbol of his identity.
  2. They believe in one God, Ndjambi, creator of all things.
  3. When a man dies some of his sacred cows are sacrificed with him with the idea that the souls of all of them unite.
  4. Women, when they think they are going to get pregnant, sit under a tree and wait for a song to come to them.