Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Himba - The most beautiful people in Africa

Photographer Dror Yalon writes:

The Himba are a tribe of nomadic pastorals who inhabit the Kaokoland area of Namibia. The Himba are actually descendants of a group of Herero herders who fled into the remote north-west after been displaced by the Nama. The Himba have clung to their traditions and the beautiful Himba women are noted for their intricate hairstyles which and traditional jewelery.

As Himba men and woman wear few clothes apart from a loin cloth or goat skinned mini-skirt, they rub their bodies with red ocher and fat to protect themselves from the sun and also gives their appearance a rich red color.

Lately, I've seen a few Himba people in the towns of Namibia, selling their crafts and posing for photographs for tourists. To illustrate the difficulties they face in 'civilization', I'd like to quote from an email I received from a friend who now lives in Holland but who visits Namibia often:

"I find it so sad ...

In all the years I lived in this country, and all the holidays I spent here I never saw a Himba on the streets, now I saw a few ladies in their traditional clothes walking the streets of the capital Windhoek, and here at the coast as well.

Yesterday I was at the supermarket and two of them were asking the lady behind the counter,(in hands and feet language, as their language is totally different too), for some chicken.

She got upset with them as they did not understand that it had to be weighed, ... man what do such people even know about weight, they barter, so they sort of gave up and walked out again ...

My heart broke, my soul ripped, and my brain said, do something, so I bought them some chicken and bread, and went to look for them and gave it to them, plus a little bit of cash.

Man, the young woman was so surprised her eyes nearly fell out of her head, the only way they can earn money is by letting tourists take photos so this was something new - just getting something.

I wished I could speak their language to help them understand this crazy world we live in and what weighing means and how it works ... but I can't, and I don't even know who can help them ..."

Here's the link again to more of Dror Yalon's photos and a few National Geographic Articles.



  1. Great post Graham, just one of many :)..indeed they are very beautiful.
    In my teens I wanted to be an anthropologist, so stories like this are of great interest.

    How unfortunate that the more we learn about indigenous and tribal people, it follows that they are losing their own culture.

  2. Thanks for your kind comments Monica ...

    ... yes, I see the destruction of the culture of the San people especially ... they struggle to integrate in so-called western civilization and most are reduced to poverty and the excessive consumption of alcohol and it's related evils ...

    ... at the same time, with the loss of their traditional living space, their culture and life skills are being lost ... I fear that the San, as a people, will not survive for many more years ...

    i think that the same thing has happened in North America and Australia ...

  3. And in britland to the celts when the romans arrived in 43AD, and to the anglosaxons when the normans called by in 1066. It is, I fear, unavoidable...

  4. Thanks Dave ... yes, is is unavoidable ... nothing is permanent ... evolution, some may call it ...

  5. They are beautiful indeed.

    I remember when I was about four or so, we stopped by the roadside to make a bottle of milk I think for my baby sister, we were approached by the Orang Asli, the indigenous people of Malaysia, and they asked us for food. And we gave them a can of Milo!:)

    It is happening everywhere throughout history. My son highlighted to me recently that the last person of this one tribe of native American had passed away.

    Great post. It is sad and makes you wish you could do something.

  6. Thanks Ocean Girl ...

    Ah yes, the Milo ... :)

    There are many people here who are trying to help (some misguided) and it's an issue I have mixed emotions about ...

    ... while we may rue the loss of a culture and lifestyle their best chance of survival is probably education and integration into mainstream society ...

  7. How long they hold on to their culture is a big question.

  8. Thanks for your visit and comment Keats - yes, I think people in the near future will only read about it ... much has been lost already ...

  9. i have been perusing your blog which i found via hambo central. it has been an interesting read so far. actually it was the title of your site along with one of your comments that sparked my interest!


  10. Hey lynn, ... thanks for stopping by and more especially for leaving a comment ...

    hehe yeah ... OneStonedCrow - trippinwithrip ... birds of a feather no doubt ...

    I hope that you'll check in again sometime