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Muchimba, near Elola, Moimba, Angola | by Alfred Weidinger
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Muchimba, near Elola, Moimba, Angola

Himba … originally part of the nomadic Herero tribe that lived in southern Angola and migrated to Namibia in the early 16th century, they were driven into the waterless and inhospitable Kaokoland area by the Ovambo’s who guarded their own territory jealously and ferociously. They still live a nomadic existence, often abandoning their mud huts and settlements in search of water for themselves and their herds of cattle, goats and sheep, which are their main currency and provide for all their necessities in the way of milk, meat, clothing and utensils. The women rub ‘otjize’ over themselves, which is a mixture of butter fat, red rock powder and sap from a local tree. It gives their bodies a glowing red colour and protects them from the sun and insects.

 

Himba hairstyles tell a lot about the person; identifying their social status. For example, pre-pubescent girls wear two thick braids in front of their faces – these look like ram horns. After puberty the braids are replaced by many strands hanging all over their heads and faces. As she gets older the braids are lengthened and tied back, indicating that she is ready for marriage. Once married, an ‘erembe’ (a piece of goat leather) is tied to the top of her head. Single men wear their hair in a single braid running backwards from their crowns (called an ‘ondatu’) with the rest shaved off; two plaits if they are eligible to marry and a turban style hairdo for married men. Often these are covered by a similar shaped hat or material.

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Taken on July 11, 2011