It was with a bit of trepidation that we first met the traditional Himba people of Namibia – an indigenous people of about 50,000 living in Northern Namibia and Angola. We were on our way back from Etosha and our guide had warned us the Himba were aggressive business people, wouldn’t like being photographed too often and would most likely cover our arms in bracelets and try to get us to buy everything!
While the latter was true (and I did end up buying a few bracelets after they covered my arms in them), I found the Himba despite their serious business demeanour to be warm, friendly and a lot of fun! The children especially were adorable and would hang off our legs demanding that we pick them up and swing them about. Of course we got covered in the red clay and ochre that they spread all over their bodies
The Himbas wear simple leather clothes, elaborate jewellery including iron leg bracelets to protect them from snake bites and don’t wash, choosing instead to use clay, plants and other natural materials. I couldn’t get over how soft their skin is! It was like touching silk.
Women braid their hair and cover it in a special ochre mixture. The Himba crown (seen in the first picture) is made of cow or goat leather and is placed on the head when a girl reaches puberty.
The Himba also remove their two front teeth (top or bottom) at puberty. Our guide (who is Herero) told us it was so the Himba would speak a different dialect than the Herero but I’m pretty sure he was having us on! Meeting the Himba was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and we piled back into our truck smiling, waving and yelling goodbye out the window as though we’d just made lifelong friends!