The tribes settled in Africa are famous worldwide for following thousands of years old civilization and customs. The quinine province of northeast Namibia in Africa is home to one such species whose life in itself feels like a story. Geophysicist Ratnesh Pandey, by profession, told stories to Shailesh Shukla and Shatakshi Asthana for Navbharat Times Online based on the time he spent with this Himba tribe that brings the unique life of this society to the world. The way the people of the Himba tribe, who live in Namibia, are connected to their roots, at times it seems imaginary but it is absolutely true. The women of this tribe are considered the most beautiful in Africa. The special thing is that the women of this tribe take bath only once in their life, that too only when they get married. Ratnesh works to find natural oil and gas. The East African country has lived in the city of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania for the last eleven years.
Who are himba?
Himba are nomadic people. They are used to living in the harsh climate of the desert, and keep themselves separate from the outside world. They eat mostly porridge in the morning, afternoon and evening which is made of maize or millet flour. These people call Bajra as Mahaungu which is easily available in Namibia. At the same time, these people like to eat meat at wedding ceremonies or on special occasions. Like other tribal societies of Africa, the people of Himba also depend on the cow. Even if no one in the group has a cow, it is not seen with respect. They raise cattle, which include cows as well as goats and sheep. It is the responsibility of women to milk the cows.
Men wear wedding sign here
Himba women can form relationships with more than one man even after marriage. This rule applies not only to women, but also to men of the tribe. In the Himba tribe, the right to economic decision rests only with women and the status of women is decisive at any expense in the family. The hairstyle of the Himba tribe is also peculiar and peculiar. The men here keep only one peak on their head, they are also horny. However, here, married men wear a turban on their head. Even more surprising is that the men who get married here never remove the turban from their head after marriage.
Why are the colors of these women red?
The skin of the women of the Himba tribe is red. In fact, instead of bathing, they boil certain herbs in water and keep their body fresh with its smoke so that they do not smell. These women of the Himba tribe do not use water to wash their hands. They use special lotions to protect their skin from the sun. This lotion is prepared from animal fat and hematite (a mineral element like iron) dust. Hematite dust causes their skin color to turn red. This special lotion also protects them from insect bites. These women are also known as ‘Red Man’. Himba women wear only lungi and cover their bodies with dark ocher, but their upper body remains open.
Voice from earth to heaven
The deity of the people of the Himba tribe is Mukuru. They use holy fire to talk to their deity. These people believe that when a fire burns, its voice goes to heaven. During this time these people stand and pray to their deity till then the fire keeps on burning. Himba has retained its traditional beliefs including rituals associated with the sacred fire. The Himba religion itself is monotheistic. Also ancestral spirits play an important role. Every Himba family builds an altar in the hut with sacred ancestral fire, where ancestors and mukuru are worshiped every 7-8 days. Another important element of Himba’s belief is the existence of omati or black witchcraft, which, according to Himba, are endowed with evil people who are capable of harming others or even inspire dark thoughts.
Women are more hardworking
Also, women take care of children (one woman can take care of another’s children). In addition, women often work harder than men. They bring water from the rivers and ponds in the village. They milk the cows early in the morning, after which the men take the cows to graze. When the grass runs out in one field, these men along with the herds of cow move towards other grounds so that the cows are not short of fodder. The youth of the Himba tribe build cone-shaped huts from trees and palm leaves. The Himba tribe lives in a clan headed by an elder. After marriage, the wife goes to her husband and accepts the rules of the new clan.
When a woman becomes a mother …
Folk songs have a big role in the culture of any community. This keeps the community tied together and also creates a separate identity in the world. However, not just the community in the Himba tribe, there will be a special song related to each person’s life which is decided before their birth. This song later becomes the basis and special identity of his life. Just like our identity is our voter card or our passport, similarly the identity of Hindus is their musical life-song. The existence of life in this tribe is not believed from the day of birth but from the day when a woman comes to the idea that she has to become a mother. After this, she sits in seclusion under a tree and meditates for the song of her future child. Her tenacity lasts until her ears begin to echo the song of the new life that she wants to hold in her womb. She returns to the population when the idea of new life takes the form of a song. (Photo: CGTN)
The song lives with you from birth to death…
She comes back to the man she has chosen as the father of her infant. She teaches the man the same song she has come to hear. After this, this song is sung with this man on every occasion from contact to delivery. As the child grows up, other villagers are also taught the song of the child. This song is now the identity of that child in the community. Even if the child gets hurt while playing, the one who raises it sings the same song. Be it her honor or marriage, the biggest attraction of every festival is her song. In the last moments of life, when a Himba is on his deathbed, everyone sings his song for him. He leaves with his song. With this, the cycle of both song and life is complete. Each of the Himba’s unique life songs is a unique identity of the Himba tribe in Namibia with a population of around 20 thousand to 50 thousand.