A Day In Their Life…

A question I would often ask our guide in Namibia is what do the Himba people do during the day?  Typically I was referring to those we found in the villages, the mothers, grandmothers, elders and young children.  The Men and boys would be out each day with the cattle, looking for grazing land and water.  This could be an arduous task, for example the couple of teenagers we came across taking a cow to market for sale.  We were in the middle of absolutely nowhere and when we asked them which town they were going to it was about 25 miles away across country.  I can’t imagine walking 25 miles without considering their journey is 25 miles each way!  By their reaction, this kind of trek is not unusual and since that is about as far as the nearest store, I guess when there is a need you find a way.  I was really pleased we were able to trade with each village group, sharing maize flour, sugar, cooking oil, cup-a-soups, snuff and razor blades in exchange for photography sessions.  This seemed like a wonderful trade given the alternative walk to secure these goods!

Back to my first question, so what do the Himba do each day in their villages.  In our season, after the rains (if they come) the women prepare food or engage in crafts such as weaving or basket work.  The basket work in particular was beautiful.  I noticed a particularly long and gruesome knife on top of one of the huts and next too it were strands of animal flesh stretched out.  This was some kind of curing and the results looked very much like a basic kind of jerky.  You’ve probably already noticed the distinct skin coloring of the Himba women and this is a result of a compound of butter and ochre they spread on themselves.  When in the local market town we noticed bags of small brown ochre colored rocks for sale.  In the village these are ground into powder for blending with the butter.

Beyond the above we didn’t see a lot of activity, a big difference from our crazy world of go, go go!  Pipe smoking is clearly a favorite activity for both men and women.  The pipes ranged from those you would be familiar with to anything cylindrical in shape, for example the broken leg of a metal chair made a perfect pipe for one grandmother!

Namib Day 9-435 Namib Day 9-446 Namib Day 9-460-2

Namib Day 9-56-2 Namib Day 9-62-2Namib Day 9-270-2

Namib Day 6-87-2 Namib Day 9-137

2 thoughts

  1. Andy, I can’t tell you how much I love looking at your images and reading your thoughts! I went to Namibia years ago, but it was to photograph all the wildlife. This reminds me so much of Ethiopia! You are truly a special person, and I’m so glad we met…

  2. Thank you for your kind words, that was a wonderful trip to Ethiopia. I will be sharing wildlife pictures from Namibia coming up. It was my first experience of African animals in the wild and was amazing. Take care!

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