Namibia’s Himba People: Torn Between Tradition And Modernity

Namibia’s nomadic Himba tribe is one of the few ethnic groups in Africa that lives a truly traditional existence, but they are under threat from a world that is quickly being globalized with technology and tourism, CCTV Africa reports.

The Himba, who number about 50,000 people, live mostly in the remote north of Namibia. They tend cattle and lead semi-nomadic lives in the desert plains of Kunene, which was until recently isolated from outside influence.

But the need to eke out a decent living has led the tribe to allow tourists inside their close knit communities. This offers them financial gain and helps families feed themselves, but also results in a loss of privacy.

Many Himba have also sent their children to modern schools, and mobile phone use is slowly increasing. Only about 10,000 of the 50,000 Himba in Namibia live in the traditional manner.

Tony Park describes the Himba as “proud, noble, strikingly beautiful people living a life that rarely crosses paths with the modern world. The women cover their exposed skin with butter mixed with ochre and set their hair with a mixture of butter, mud and goat hair. Save for the odd mobile phone, there’s nothing to separate the way today’s Himba live their lives as semi-nomadic cattle herders from those of centuries past.”

In this video, Maria Galang travels to a Himba village in the Kunene region to explore the dilemma of modernization vs. tradition faced by these tribal people.

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