i-con2 Ethnic Groups in Namibia : Himba

The approximately 15.000 Himba live as a semi-nomadic people in the remote Kaokoland in the north-west of Namibia. The centre of the area is the town Opuwo, but only few Himba live there. Most Himba are organised in family clans, relatively self-sufficient and widely spread out across the 50.000 square kilometre of Kaokoveld. They speak the same language as the Herero, their relatives, and live exclusively on their herds of cattle and goats. In tune with the seasons they trek with their herds to the different pasturelands and waterholes.

Clothing, hairstyle and decoration are of great importance in the Himba culture, and the women spend a lot of time every day on grooming. They rub their bodies with an ointment from rancid butterfat and ochre. The reddish shine is the Himba's ideal of beauty.

Photo: Himba family near Orupembe in Kaokoland

Ethnic groups in Namibia Nama Rehoboth Baster Herero San (Bushmen) Damara Caprivians Kavango Ovambo Himba
The Himba people is closely related to the Herero and speaks the same language. The Himba also adhere to an ancestor cult. The 'Okuruo', the holy fire, which may never go out, is the centre of every kraal. Here, the chief of the clan makes contact with the ancestors, offers sacrifices, receives advice and help and confesses mistakes and sins.

The Himba still uphold their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle. They speak the same language as the Herero and live exclusively on their herds of cattle. The Himbas' culture is threatened by the continuously growing and uncontrolled Kaokoland tourism.