Namibia's Himba and Herero people

Photos and text by Jacob Holdt

Click on photos for enlargements and stories

       

The Himba people

The Himba live in Northern Namibia. They predominantly breed cattle and goats and lead a nomadic life. Clothes, hairstyle and jewelry are all of particular significance to the Himba. They traditionally cover their bodies from head to foot with butterfat tinted with ochre to protect their skin from the severe sun and desert climate. They were extremely hospitable to me, but unfortunately my stay with them was cut short by the September 11 events in New York - just when I was starting to reach a deeper intimacy with them.
 

       
Mother playing with daughter all evening Motherly love My hostess reaching for dried corn on the roof Two Himba women chatting
Mother playing with
daughter all evening
Motherly love My hostess reach for
dried corn on the roof
Two Himba
women chatting
       
Himba girl writing Himba woman milking cow Himba woman catching kids My wonderful hostess
Himba girl writing Himba woman
milking cow
Himba woman
catching kids
My wonderful
hostess
       
Himba woman Woman chatting with neighbor Himba boy covered with butterfat Older Himba woman
Woman living next
to my hostess
Woman chatting
with neighbor
Boy covered
with butterfat
Older Himba
woman
       
Woman chasing the goats out in the morning Young Himba women grinding maize in evening sun Early morning Himba breakfast Neighboring tribes woman visit my hostage's son
Woman chasing goats
out in the morning
Young women grinding
maize in evening sun
Early morning
breakfast
Neighbor visits
my hostess' son
       
Early morning flirting and milking of cows Himba boy fetching water on a donkey Buried on September 11th My hostess with her youngest child
Early morning flirting
and milking of cows
Himba boy fetching
water on a donkey
Buried on
September 11th
My hostess with
her youngest child
       
Woman in sunset Himba girl in the fields Mother and child Young Himba woman
Woman in sunset Himba girl
in the fields
Mother and child Young woman
       
My hostess grinding corn Woman grinding flower at sunrise Upstairs downstairs Himba woman making jewelry
My hostess
grinding corn
Woman grinding
flower at sunrise
Upstairs
downstairs
Himba woman
making jewelry
       
Himba family cooking supper Two neighbors grinding flower Non-Himba girl from neighboring tribe visits our village Milking cows at night
Himba family
cooking supper
Two neighbors
grinding flower
Non-Himba girl
visits our village
Milking cows
at night
       
Himba mother and child at fire My friend comes to visit me Himba children with barrel Himba children with cup
Himba mother
and child at fire
My friend comes
to visit me
Himba children
with barrel
Himba children
with cup
       
Myself - helping the Himba out of the stone age :-) My host with the cows Himba village meeting Himba boy carrying child
I help the Himba
out of the stone age :-)
My host with
the cows
Himba village
 meeting
Himba boy
carrying child
       
 

The Herero people

Hereros used to be as naked as the Himba whom they are closely related to.
However, European missionaries were appalled by nudity and forced them to wear long, flowing Victorian gowns with multiple layers of petticoats made from over 12 m of material. The Hereros internalized this oppression and today wear the dress with pride - though they admit that it is too hot. They also seem to have internalized the inhospitality of the Germans. At least I didn't find them as friendly as the Himba.
 

       
Herrero woman talking to Himba shepherd Herrero woman cooking breakfast Herero woman meets non-Himba Herrero mother and daughter selling meat
Herero woman and
Himba shepherd
Herero woman
cooking breakfast
Herero woman
meets non-Himba
Herero mother and
daughter selling meat
       
Herrero woman with water      
Herero woman
with water
     
       

Copyright 2002; All rights reserved

Back to Namibia index                Back to photo gallery

Photos by Jacob Holdt, Copenhagen, Denmark