The Himba of Namibia is unique among African tribes as they are the only tribe to wear the sacred him headdress, the Otjivho “hundred thread”. The origin of this sacred ceremonial dress dates back to the early Holocene period. The Himba of Namibia are nomadic people who inhabit one of the last extremes of earth, the dry desert that borders Namibia and Angola. These tribes, also called Bushmen, dwell in tented camps that comprise the entire gender of the species. These tribes use their houses, called abode, as shelters and rest areas for the day and sleep out the other parts of the day in caves or on the bush.
The Himba of Namibia are very protective of their homes and their origin religion has been connected to that of Namibia’s Indigenous People, which is Waihoporang, a tribe of hunter-gatherers. The Himba honor their ancestors by decorating their houses with figurines of Namibian wooden gods and goddesses, usually made of mud. Many of the Namibian gods and goddesses have symbols and names associated with specific animals – e.g., the lion is associated with Lambo, the horse with Hlotse and so on. The traditional symbolic design and ornamentation on the himba figurines, however, does not portray any of these animals. Instead, the himba represents the sun, the source of life and light, and is thus a sacred symbol to the Namibian people.
The Himba of Namibia were nomadic tribes who settled permanently in settlements and fields with the cattle and the goats. Settlements were formed on the beach between flowing rivers or on rocky hillsides where there was a flat terrain. Nomadic cultures were characterized by differences in clothing styles, customs and practices, ranging from being semi nomadic and semi-forest to fully settled and semi-urbanized. The Himba of Namibia were one such nomadic tribe. Like most other Namibian tribes, the himba people were known for their fierce temperament and their hunting of wild and grazing animals; they also hunted aquatic creatures such as fish, lobsters and crabs.
The Himba of Namibia were a semi-entry semi-tropical tribe who lived by fishing, hunting, agriculture (shepherding) and hunting. They relied largely on their skills as fishermen and hunters as well as on the sale of ferns, milk and meat. Because they were nomads and because they had to travel long distances to find a good game, the Himba of Namibia were also masters of the desert – they built permanent dwellings in desert regions. Their tents were simple huts made of straw, which they moved from one place to another when seasonal climate changed. A huddle of ten or more people accommodated inside would huddle together during cooler months, with the men sitting round a small fire inside the tent, while the women outside cleaned and cooked over the open fire.
The Himba of Namibia were a hardy semi-nomadic tribe who depended almost totally on their natural instincts for survival. For water, they drew from the springs of the Namibai River; for shelter they used bush dwellings; for food, they hunted wild oxen and reindeer on horseback. Their ceremonial dances, which mark important events in the community, are a distinctive feature of their culture. The Himba’s traditional songs celebrate the lives of the past, reflect events that are still happening in the Namibian communities today, and celebrate the joyous accomplishments of the indigenous Namibian people as a way of identifying with their ancestors and their way of living.
The origins of the Namibian culture can be traced back to the Himba, who used the shape of an animal to represent the sun. The shape of the sun, like that of the national flag, was adopted by other tribes to represent their spiritual connection with the heavens. Other symbolic tattoos, including that of the black snake, were adopted from the cultures of Namibia’s neighbours. It was these symbols, along with others such as the stylized bird and the horn of plenty, that allowed the Himba of Namibia to distinguish themselves from the other tribes. The Himba of Namibia were a hardy group of people, who relied on each other and their natural gifts for survival, as well as on nature itself, for sustenance.
As the years went by, the himba people gradually became pastoralists. They found it easier to move from one place to another when the land was not under cultivation, so they settled into areas of high seasonal weather and low population, such as the delta. When the Namibian government began the Namibian National Parks and Wildlife Management, in 2020, this marked the official beginning of Namibian tourism.
The Namibian government has, however, made it easier for visitors to come to the region, by establishing a number of hotels and tourist sites around the coast, as well as in the south. It is also possible to experience a taste of Nnamibia’s cuisine at various tourist establishments, as well as at the many restaurants and shops around the country. The most popular cuisine served in Namibia is Mwandi, a local style of food that is different from the styles commonly found elsewhere. Some consider this cuisine to be too spicy for comfort, but most people claim that it is delicious! This style of cuisine is best enjoyed in the calm, open-air atmosphere of a limb village. This type of setting offers a perfect setting for a peaceful meal, perfect for a safari trip, or a romantic escape.