Omusaona Traditional Himba Village, Namibia

 

Entry to Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Entry to Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Not even one kilometre north off Kamanjab lies the new ‘Omusaona Himba cultural village’. ‘Omusaona’ means ‘thorny acacia tree’ in Himba language, which are plentiful.

Moved to a new start, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Moved to a new start, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

‘New’ meaning that a few families relocated from the northern ‘Kaokoveld’ on to a farm’s property. There are no modern houses or cons to be found here, they moved with old Himba traditions only a few months ago.

New huts are built st Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

New huts are built st Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Huts are built with wooden Acacia tree poles and covered with a paste made out of cow dung and clay paste. This applies to roofs as well. These huts are very well insulated from the scorching sun.

Typical Himba Village setup, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Typical Himba Village set up, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Each Himba village has the same layout. All huts are built in a large circle. The ‘Kraal’ for the holy cattle lies in the centre.

The view from the chiefs hut over to the kraal, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The view from the chiefs hut over to the kraal, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The entry/exit point for the cattle lines up with the entry/exit point off the Chief’s Hut. Halfway in between both entrances is the fireplace for the holy fire, which is lid every night. If someone isn’t invited to join the holy fire ceremony, he can not pass by in between the hut, fire and kraal. He has to pass by behind the hut or kraal.

Leather tree, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Leather tree, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The tree in the middle of the village is used to dry leather and other goods.

Meeting place, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Meeting place, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Seems to be a social meeting place as well. 

Traditional, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Traditional, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

It resembles a miracle that the Himba still believe and live in traditional, ancient and spiritual ways. A devastating drought in the early 1980’s wiped out almost all of their cattle. Cattle is a sign of wealth for these Nomads and have therefore holy status.

Staple diet, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Staple diet, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Many Himba people died of hunger or thirst. At the same time, the South African Border War raged over Namibia, then South West Africa, Angola and Zambia, which converted the already dire lands to a battlefield. Many Himba fled the scenes in fear of being forced to join either side for yet, another useless war.

Traditional or modern choice, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Traditional or modern choice, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Even with nowadays modern society, most of the Himba still live in historical, traditional and ancient believes. An absolutely fascinating and outstanding achievement, like most other native tribes around the world, have surrendered ancient believes to modern technology and alcohol. 

Traditional meets modern, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Traditional meets modern, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

From Oppi Koppi, I walked the 600 meters in northern direction and 1000 meters inland from the turn-off and was friendly greeted by tour guide Peineas. After a quick introduction, we walked up to the newly built traditional village.

 

Himba welcome, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Himba welcome, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

We were quickly greeted (Moro)  by 3 Himba women, wearing similar but very different jewellery. ‘Perivi?’ Means ‘How are you?’ ‘Nauwa, okuhepa’  means ‘I am fine, thank you!’ Like with any woman around the globe, it states the wealth of her family and social status within this community.  Most jewellery has been passed on through generations.

Ngoma snail, the sign off fertility, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Ngoma snail, the sign off fertility, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The ‘ohumba’, or housing of the ‘Ngoma Snail’, is a popular item in Himba tradition as it resembles fertility of the woman wearing it.

Copper and beaded jewellery, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Copper and beaded jewellery, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Copper rings and necklaces, as well as beaded necklaces,  determine wealth and health. 

The symbol off virginity?, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The symbol off virginity?, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The thick necklace resembles, that this fertile woman isn’t married, and therefore doesn’t have any children yet.

Chief Kabane, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Chief Kabane, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

This goes for males too.

Chief welcome, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Chief welcome, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Chief Kasapa, who joined us shortly after seems to be single too.

Young boy wearing thick necklace, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Young boy wearing a thick necklace, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Even this young boy wears one already.  Himba jewellery has been a major trading object for centuries.

Making jewellery, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Making jewellery, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

These are still very much handmade.

Himba hair beauty, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Himba hair beauty, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The women’s hair is strained with a paste made out of clay, butter and herbs,

Worrier look?, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Worrier look?, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

which runs out naturally over their shoulders.

Grinding, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Grinding, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

A woman in a different hut was grinding the claystone, with a young woman watching me.

Traditional hat, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Traditional hat, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The hat is made out of goatskin. Goats are not killed to use their leather, they must have died of natural cause.

Hat manufacturers, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Hat manufacturers, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

A little goat died the night before and this woman makes a new hat.

Placing stones to the hat to give it the horn shape, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Placing stones to the hat to give it the horn shape, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Carefully pieced and shaped together, little stones are added to give it the round edge before it dries in the sun.

Having a laugh about a silly question. Nice to see! Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Having a laugh about a silly question. Nice to see! Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Quite an effort to produce.

Leather dress, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Leather dress, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

A goatskin skirt is used to cover the waist, while a cattle fur is in braided with more jewellery. 

Belt pointing outward, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Belt pointing outward, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

This appears like a metal belt pointing in outwards direction. Starting from the ankles, permanent beaded jewellery is attached to each foot. Not only serves it as protection from snake or scorpion bites but is part of their social status too.

This woman has one child, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

This woman has one child, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The number of vertical stripes on this foot jewellery, determine how many children this woman has. Just like reading an open book, fellow Himba instantly knows the social position of each member. Himba believe in polygamy, meaning a man can have more than one wife. Only if he has enough cattle to pay the ransom, on average, around 5 cows per wife. The cattle have a holy status in Himba tradition.

Horns on the head, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Horns on the head, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The leather ‘hat’ women are wearing resembles cow horns.

Smiley young girl, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Smiley young girl, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Just as much as young teenage girls wear two braided plaits.

Cow horn hair fashion, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Cow horn hair fashion, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

These do look like cattle horns. Kids at the age of around 9 years, get their bottom 4 front teeth pulled out by the medicine man. Another symbol of Himba beauty.

Family care starts at young age, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Family care starts at a young age, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

It’s all about family within the village community. The older kids look after the younger ones. Female teenagers use water to shower until they reach their first period and are biologically fertile. From there on, no more water is used for cleaning.

Smoked in to dreamland, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Smoked in to dreamland, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Instead, they shower in smoke. Each woman collects their own herbs, fruits and spices for her own distinctive smell.

I enjoyed watching her smiling and being a world away, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

I enjoyed watching her smiling and being a world away, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

These get burned in a hand size coal burner and intensifies her own perfume. The smoke kills pesticides as well.

Awoken from dreamland, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Awoken from dreamland, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The coal oven is placed inside a coarse hand-woven basket and their ‘leather skirt’ is placed around it.This works like an inhaler but also cleans her skirt at the same time.

 

Penny for your thought, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Penny for your thought, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Mixed with butter, this ash paste gets smeared around the neck. A shiny traditional perfume. 

Under one roof, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Under one roof, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

After a slow, anxious start from both sides, the motion loosened up when I was invited into the chief’s hut.

Wedding dress to the left, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Wedding dress to the left, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Cabassa, a water or liquid holder, were hanging from the main pole, and a wedding dress and other clothing hung up on the wall.

Back in Himba heaven, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Back in Himba heaven, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

One woman repeated her early morning shower ritual for me to witness, as another sat near the entrance.

Listening to my stories translated, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Listening to my stories translated, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

With the help off guide Pineas, a little palaver started. Strangely enough, the women asked many questions about my life. It is hard to understand for a lot of my friends on how I chose to live my life, freely as a wheely. For the Himba women, disbelief is an understatement. 

Thoughtful or worried?, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Thoughtful or worried?, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

All in all, the Himba don’t seem to smile much. There have been many thoughtful faces. Maybe there isn’t much to smile about? Without outside social interference and living closely together, there wouldn’t be too many news around.

Nice to see a happy smile, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Nice to see a happy smile, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Only when I asked something silly, a smile appeared.

A very serious look, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

A very serious look, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

From a traditional point of view, this was very interesting to interact with this Himba tribe. However, I noticed many and mostly sad and thoughtful faces. At least when I was around. Being a show pony in front of a lens wouldn’t make me happy either, but I think these are worried faces about their future. Not everyone chooses a traditional upbringing, just like tour guide Pineas. In these modern times, many kids go to school. The costs are not cheap. Not being able to wander the plains with their livestock and gathering food from the desert anymore, their only income is by selling jewellery. To be able to interact with tourists, the need to speak English at least. One bonus coming out off untraditional upbringing. 

Virtual fence?, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Virtual fence?, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

I left this village with mixed emotions. I really do hope that the Himba will keep living their traditional ways in the future. Tourism money is needed for their survival, just as much as anywhere else in Africa.

Happy about food drop off, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Happy about food drop off, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

I dropped by the supermarket the next morning, buying milk, butter and lots of maize meal. This won’t last for too long, but at least they all get a steady meal for a day or two. Penias and female traditional drop out Esther helped me to carry the goods to the unexpected villagers. At last, a little smile appeared.

The language off OM-D, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The language off OM-D, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

I handed Esther my iPad to show the photos I’ve taken yesterday.

Smiles all around, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Smiles all around, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

The language of OM-D did it again. There were plenty of laughter and smiles as the photos were revealed.

Hope the food won’t get burnt, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Hope the food won’t get burnt, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Meanwhile, a mother cooked some Millie pap over an open fire, which she enjoyed immensely.

No, it didn’t get burnt, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

No, it didn’t get burnt, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Not wearing the traditional hairdo means she has lost her hair. The hair gets cut off when she is in mourning.

Hungry like a lion, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Hungry like a lion, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Her young boy, still single, was hungry too.

All goes with mom’s help, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

All goes with mom’s help, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

He looked rather cute with more pap over his face than in his belly.

So cute, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab , Namibia

So cute, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab , Namibia

No spoons available around here. Finger licking good.

Traditional and modern Himba group photo, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Traditional and modern Himba group photo, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

I asked for a group photo when they all lined up.

Nice smile for the camera, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Nice smile for the camera, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Only a few smiled for the camera, but that’s better than nothing. Penian took a few photos with me standing by the Himba tribe too.

All Namibian photo, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

All Namibian photo, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

I met chief Kasapa at the car park, who just returned on his bicycle. Hearing about the unexpected food drop off, he shook my hand and said ‘okuhepa’. A Himba thank you. He invited me for an evening around the holy fire, next time I am around.

Smiling Himba, I like it, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Smiling Himba, I like it, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

I hope there will be a few more smiling faces then. I gave one of the young girls a lift into town. She took a blanket with her to sit on.

Covering her seat, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Covering her seat, Omusaona Himba Village, Kamanjab, Namibia

Not to prevent my car from getting dirty or smelly, but for her to keep her own perfume on.  Okuhepa Kandongo, thank you Himba. 

3 thoughts on “Omusaona Traditional Himba Village, Namibia

    1. Heya Ester, nice to hear from you? How is life in Omusaona? I haven’t got direct clients for the Village yet, but am promoting the Village with my travelblog. I am just a small fish in a big ocean, but I do what I can…

      Like

  1. Thanks Ben for all the pictures and adventures.
    Happy your Khaudum adventure finished good.
    We are on Grrek Islands. Nice to visit off season. Different adventure than Africa.
    You must soon be back to Australia I suppose. Good trip back and keep up writing, we love it!
    Cornelia and Jean-François (Switzerland)
    (Pioneer camp )

    Like

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