The Himba are one of the most iconic indigenous people in Africa who live in the Kunene region in remote northern Namibia. They are one of the few peoples who continue to follow a traditional way of life. Some groups have welcomed tourism as a source of income into their communities. They are nomadic pastoralists and hunter-gatherers who forage an existance in this harsh landscape of Kunene.

Stories about the Himba people appeared in National Geographic which gained fame. Men, women and children rub a dark red paste called otjize, a mixture of cattle fat, ash and ochre, into their skin to protect them from the sun. This gives them their distinctive red colour. The women wear clothing made from goat skins and jewellery made from iron, copper and shells.

Visitors can learn about this beauty regime and their traditional beliefs. Some villages have embraced tourism and will consent to be photographed but it is best to do this on an organised tour in a respectful manner. The villages that allow tourists to visit are not untouched by western civilisation and visitors may see aspects of modern life. These villages have assimilated and gain income from tourism. Other groups choose not to have contact and have retreated further into isolation to continue their traditional way of life undisturbed.

 

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