The Himba people in Namibia are a unique set of humans whose culture has a twist that most of people will frown upon.
The Himba are often called the Ovahimba or Omhimba people who live in the Kunene region of Namibia. If you are wondering why this tribe is strange, we can tell you one of their cultures.
They give sex for free to their guests and also they adorn newborn with bead necklaces.
As if these are not enough, the tribe lives in isolation and is wary of external contacts.
The people work hard to ensure that their beliefs and culture is not contaminated in any form by outsiders.
Meet the Himba tribe: Offer FREE S3X to guest; and don’t bath
You can see why we are curious to know this people who have not accepted civilization.
The Himba people are predominately livestock breeders and farmers while their women are preoccupied with gathering firewood, cooking and serving meals and sourcing for freshwater.
Some of the villagers are socially inclined and very religious, reversing and worshiping their ancient gods.
Polygamy is welcome and young girls are married off at their early ages.
Though polygamy is not peculiar in Africa, it is practiced widely on the continent.
However, not taking their bath is strange. Before you are taking aback, the reason why they don’t bath with water is because of the harsh climatic situation in their region.
The Himba people lives in one of the most extreme environments; the harsh desert climate and the lack of potable water are the reasons why this tribe have difficulty getting a bath.
Their lack of bath routine doesn’t mean that they look less pretty. When you find them on their traditional attire, they look great while some have their bodies exposed like the women.
Since the taking of a bath is difficult, they make use of the red ochre on their skins and then make use of a daily smoke bath in order to maintain their hygiene.
A shouldering charcoal is dropped into a bowl filled with herbs and the smoke is allowed to ascend and the people bow over this smoking bowl and because of heat, the body perspires and helps in washing the body.
The people are friendly to strangers and visitors but will not allow any interference in their culture.
The interesting and unique people of the Himba tribe inspired the character ‘Binti’ in Nnedi Okorafor’s novella trilogy ‘Binti’.
Down in the Kunene and Omusati regions of Northern Namibia, are the semi-nomadic people of Ovahimba and Ovazimba tribes.
It is customary, for them, for the the women to engage in daily activities of milking cows, taking care of the children while the men go hunting, sometimes leaving for long periods of time.
With a population of over 50,000, the Himba are a polygamous people where Himba girls are married off to male partners selected by their fathers once they attain puberty.
Most of their cultures have been upheld despite western influence and agitation.
Among these is the “Man comes first” tradition. The woman has little or no opinion in the decision making. Submission to her husband’s demands come first.
According to the Guardian, “When a visitor comes knocking, a man shows his approval and pleasure of seeing his guest by giving him the Okujepisa Omukazendu treatment — the wife is given to his guest to spend the night while the husband sleeps in another room. In a case where there is no available room, her husband will sleep outside.”
This, apparently, reduces jealousy and fosters relationships.
Another tradition that has stood the test of time is the “bathing is forbidden” rule. Rather than take their baths, the women take a smoke bath and apply aromatic resins on their skin. They are also guided by the belief that the colour red signifies “Earth and blood”. Their red skin is one of the things that make them extremely unique. The red colour is from the otjize paste (a combination of butterfat, omuzumba scrub and ochre) and its function is to protect their skin from the harsh desert sun and insect bites.
Himba Influence in African Literature
The Himba people haven’t been represented a lot in Literature. However, in Nnedi Okafor lead character ‘Binti’ is of the Himba poeple. Okorafor describes the tribe as a “tribe in Namibia who use ‘sweet smelling otjize’, a mixture of ochre and butterfat over their skin, rolling it into their hair as protection against the desert sun”. In the novella, the Himba don’t travel, which directly contrasts the real Himba people who are nomads.