Thursday, February 4, 2010

Angola's Tribes: The Beautiful Himba People

The Himba are tribe of about 20,000 to 50,000 nomadic pastoralists who inhabit the southwest Angola and the northern parts of neighboring Namibia to the south.  The Himba have clung to their traditions and the beautiful Himba women are noted for their intricate hairstyles and traditional jewellery.

The Himba adult women color their skin twice a day with a mixture of ground red ochre, sap, butter, and fat, and rub this all over their skin and hair.  This protects their skin from the sun and also gives the appearance of a rich red color. 

Single Himba boys and men wear their hair in braids sweeping backwards from the crown of the head, while married men tie their hair in a turban-like fashion with wood shavings mixed into it.

The Himba men and women wear few clothes apart from a loin cloth or goat skinned mini-skirt due to tradition and the intense heat in their region.

The Himba are a cattle-based pastoralist culture, although they also have sheep and goats, measuring wealth in cattle, and paying for their wives with them.

The standard Himba home.

A Himba woman will wear a bride headdress when she gets married; the day she leaves her parents' homestead and goes to live with her husbands family.  The Himba trace descent both through a child's mother and father, creating a network of relations that bind together scattered groups of herders scattered throughout the area.  The wedding headdress stays within the matrilineage, passed down from mother to daughter.

The Himba are monotheistic people who worship various gods and practice ancestor worship.   Each family has its own ancestral fire, which is kept by the family's designated firekeeper. 

This people group as one of the remaining unreached people groups in Angola with less that 2% Christian population.  With its medical-based outreach within the Himba-populated regions of southwest Angola, the CEML Hospital has an opportunity to present Christ and build church communities within the tribe.

(Photos and information adapted from Trinity Blu site)

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