All over Africa, some tribes like the Himba people still respect and live according to the traditions of their ancestors. Other examples of tribes that are still working according to their forefathers tradition include the Maasai tribe in Kenya, the Pygmies in Congo or the many tribes that call the Dogon Valley in Mali their home. However, the one that intrigues me the most is the Himba tribe in north-western Namibia. The Himba people are such a wonderful set of people who bend towards their conditions in whatsoever way they can in other to help themselves and their family. They would endure anything except insults to their ancestral beliefs (gods).
According to my findings, the Himba people are known for many things; one of it is offering their women (wifes) to well esteemed visitors to spend the night with. This is a practice they refer to as “Okujepisa Omakazendu” which means "Offering wife to guest". According to their tradition, a Himba man will have to sleep in another man's hut or sleep outside while his wife satisfies their guest for the night.
Other interesting facts about the Himba tribe:
#1 How the Himba tribe came to existence
The first settlements of the Himba people can be traced back to the early 16th century when they crossed the Angolan border and chose Kaokoland (now known as Kunene Region) as their new homeland. At that time, the word Himba did not exist because they had not yet separated themselves from the Herero tribe. At the end of the 19th century, Namibia was plagued by a relentless bovine epidemic. Most of the cattle that the Herero depended on perished, and the tribe faced a great crisis. Subsequently, the tribe moved south and started to explore different regions to enhance their chances of survival. Still, some members decided to stay and rather struggle for survival in familiar territories. Then and there, the schism between the two tribes became a reality, and the Himba identity came into being.
Freely translated from the Otjiherero language, the word Himba means beggar. Why did they inherit this somewhat derogatory name? Well, after the schism, many of those that remained roamed the vast Kaokoland in search of cattle and crops asking fellow or other tribe members for help.
#2 Red ochre
The red ochre cream that the Himba are famous for is made by pounding the ochre stone (Hematite) into small pieces. After that, the fragments are mixed with butter, slightly heated using smoke and applied on the skin. According to their history, the main reason for the red ochre is to establish a difference between men and women. Moreover, the red layer seems to help against the scorching sun radiation, while keeping the skin clean and moist, and to some extent, it blocks hair growth on the body.
On top of the women’s head in the picture, you find the Himba crown: the Erembe. This crown is made of cow or goat leather and is placed on the head when a girl reaches puberty. The red ochre, however, is applied when the girls are old enough to look after themselves hygienically. The tribe’s men do not apply red ochre on their skin.
#3 How the communicate with their god
Himbas are animists, and their supreme being is called Mukuru. The way they communicate with their God is through the holy fire. The smoke of the holy fire rises towards heaven, which enables them to communicate with their ancestors who stand in direct contact with the Supreme Being. In every village, you will find the holy fire smouldering while next to it some logs of wood are put on a sacred stone to feed the fire when needed. You are not allowed to cross the holy line if you are an outsider or you have not been invited into the village. The holy line starts from the main entrance of the chief’s hut and goes straight, passing the holy fire, to the entrance of the cattle enclosure.
If you were to visit the Himba tribe and one of their wife was offered to you for the night according to their tradition, what will you do? Drop a comment, like and also share.
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