Fri 8 Jun 2012 32 °C
Been camping in Namibia for the past week - will tell you all about it at some point.
We're now staying (in a tent) in a luxury lodge at Opuwo, North West of the country - the view is stunning!
It's pretty cool walking down the street as there are three types of old-fashioned tribes here; the Himba, the Herero and one from Angola (which they call the Angolan, but I'm sure they have a name as well).
The Angolan came over as refugees fleeing the civil war about 10 years ago. The women wear the ubiquitous African printed cotton fabric as a short skirt, and coloured bids necklaces, and that's it.
The Herero are a bigger tribe found all around the north of Namibia. Some of the women still wear brightly coloured Victorian style dresses, long tight sleeves, high neckline, very long and full skirt, and a weird hat that looks like it has a stick in the front. Will try to take a pic tomorrow... this is a legacy from the early German settlers, who have themselves dress up completely modern now
The Himba is a small tribe, around 50,000 people total. We went to see a village today with guide Queen Elizabeth (professional name), which was a bit of a weird experience.
You get used to the exposed boobs quickly enough, and after some questions about the different head gear and jewellery it's just like visiting any other poverty-stricken village. Maybe the difference is that the Himba don't seem to feel like they are poor - if a man has 6 wives with 10-15 children each and a lot of cattle then he's surely not poor in my opinion as well. Their wood huts are covered with a mixture of cow dung and sand that seems to create good insulation but has no windows to let the smoke out, once the fire is lit to warm the cold nights.
They also never wash, only re-apply a mixture of ground red ochre and butter 2-3 times a day over their entire bodies.
All the men were away at a funeral (or so we were told) so we only met the women and young children. The Chief's wife is 87, the chief said he was 10 and a 1000, and burst into a massive laugh. The hair styles and jewellery represent age and family situation: boys have one braid at the top pf their head, going back; girls have two braids at the top going to the front. When they're elven they have their front 4 teeth removed (apparently to look more like a cow) and the girls start to have their hair done in thin braids with mud on each, looking a bit like dreadlocks, and tied up. When they are 15 (marriageable age) the dreads go down and a lamb-skin headdress goes on top. All very complex...
Really interesting day and worth it's own entry, we'll update you on how we got here very soon!