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The Himba People Of Namibia Essay

1201 words - 5 pages

The Himba People of Namibia

The Himba are an indigenous tribe of around 50,000 people, living in Northern Namibia. Namibia is located in Southern Africa. It borders Angola, Botswana, and Zambia. The country is relatively politically stable, and is for the most part, economically sound. A large portion of the population is indigenous, including the Himba. The Himba are a mostly semi-nomadic people. They are closely related to the Herero, an ethnic group located in the Bantu region of Africa.
They speak Otijihimba, which is very comparable to the language of the Herero. The Himba, similar to the Afar people of Ethiopia and many other African tribes, are mostly revolved around ...view middle of the document...

After a girl enters puberty, the girl’s plaits are moved closer to their face, and they are allowed to have more than two. Married women wear headdresses with many streams of braided hair, colored and put into shape by the otjize. Single men wear one plait backwards to their necks, while married men cover their hair with a turban.
Due to of the harsh conditions of the desert and their lack of outside influences, the Himba have managed to maintain much of their traditional lifestyle. The Himba people live under a tribal structure based off of ‘bilateral descent.’ Bilateral descent is a system of family lineage in which relatives on the mother’s side and father’s side are equally important in emotional ties or for the transferring of property and wealth. It is a family arrangement where descent and inheritance are passed down equally through both parents. Under bilateral descent, every tribe member belongs to two clans. One through the father and one through the mother. Himba clans are led by the eldest man in the clan. Sons will live with their father’s clan, and when daughters marry, they go to live with the clan of their husband. Bilateral descent is found among only a few groups in West Africa, India, Australia, Melanesia and Polynesia. Anthropologists consider the system advantageous for groups that live in extreme environments because it allows individuals to rely on two sets of families dispersed over a wide area.
The Himba’s history is full with disasters. Including several severe droughts and guerilla warfare. Especially during Namibia’s struggle for independence, and during the civil war between Namibia and Angola. In 1904, The Himba suffered a genocide by the German colonial power under Lothar von Trotha. The genocide not only diminished a large portion of the Himba, but also many other groups and tribes, the most severely effected being the Herero and the Nama, an ethnic group of Botswana and Namibia. In the 1980’s it appeared as if the way of the Himba was coming to an end. A severe drought had killed 90% of their cattle, and many had given up their herds and became refugees, living in the slums of various towns and cities. Still, many of the Himba still live the traditional way of Himba life, but it is growing more and more difficult to do so.
As for the Himba’s religious views, The Himba follow their own monotheistic religion who worship the god Mukuru, as well as their tribe’s ancestors. Mukuru only blesses,...

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