The heart of Africa: Bushmen and Himba people

Regardless of magnificent nature, animal and plant kingdom, great architectural achievements and other peculiarities of the country that we go to, are people the one that give soul and heart to the country. And Africa is no exception. Maybe it is even more important when in Africa, to step out of commonly used paths and get to know their authentic inhabitants and their special way of life; still intertwine to the nature, its possibilities and its limitations.

When we decided to go to Africa, we knew we want to see less touristic, local part of Africa, at least for a while, Bushmen and Himba. I think that the best opportunity (especially with kids) for learning, tolerance, understanding, gratefulness and embracing is getting to know different cultures, traditions, ways of life, religions, customs…. Adults need that too, of course. That is the real geography, biology, history and nature science… the one that counts and that kids cannot learn just by sitting in school.

When planning our trip, we decided to visit non-touristic Himba and sleep there for a night. At first we thought that would be in Puros, but we changed our minds because Puros is difficult to reach and we didn´t have enough time, and so we went to Sesfontein. It is necessary to hire local guide, as they know the area and people.

I still don´t know exactly what to think about our guide, as we had some problems with him at first, but it´s how it goes there. He thought that we will be satisfied with touristic villages of Himba as many travelers are (those that come to Sesfontain are usually travelers; there is no other tourism). Nevertheless, we wanted something else, Himba that are not used of other people around, not prepared for tourists. After some persuasion and a few failed attempts, we succeed. But we had to be persistent as our guide would like to do everything effortless. At the end, we got more that we wished for. Not just wonderful experience with Himba but also unplanned visit of local school and kids of Damara people. Just because our guide was late for two hours.

Himba are autochthonous population, nomads that live on north side of Namibia, in Kunene region (former Kaokoland). They have many sheep and goats. Truly huge amount of sheep and goats is their status symbol that is also destroying nature a bit and that is the reason Himba are not popular (here they are in dispute with Damara people). Women and girls do the most work in the village, but they also take care of their looks. Hair-do, jewelry and taking care of your skin is very important as is represents your age and social status in community. Women take care of themselves every morning. They put some sort of red resin on their skin – it is mixture of okra, butter and resin, which is protecting them from sun but is also their ideal of beauty.
When we visited them, there were no men in the village, women took care of everything, and they were really beautiful and photogenic with their skin red and their special look.

Bushmen are very different. For me personally – they are even dearer to my heart. Maybe because they are so connected to the nature.

How do Bushmen look? Do you remember movie The Gods Must Be Crazy? Well, they are like that 🙂 .

They are also called San people and they are gatherers. Because of the way they live and great respect to the Earth, they didn´t leave other tracks of their culture then cave pictures. We visited Bushmen north from Tsumkwe, where German Foundation has organizied live museum (www.lcfn.info/hunters). Even though the village is prepared for travelers, few in number, our experience was genuine and we recommend it.

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