Friday, March 4, 2011
It's Good to be the Chief
Our driver had a friend in one of the towns that knew the chief of on of the Himba villages and offered to take us there. The Himba are nomadic and travel with their herds of goats and cattle but this village was for the young children an woman. The chief had several wives the village had some goats and cattle. We stopped at the market in town to get some tobacco and flour as gifts for the chief, our guide also asked each one of us to bring a large bottle of water. A bottle of water seemed like a strange gift. On the drive to the village, a narrow dirt road then several miles on a track across the desert, the guide explained about the village and the sacred fire. A fire is always burning and keeps the contact between the living and the dead. He explained we must not walk around the fire.
When we got to the village the guide had us wait in the truck while he talked to the chief. The village was a few mud huts and two corrals for the goats and the cattle all surrounded by a fence made up of thorn bushes. The chief invited us in to the village and said, through the interpreter, that we didn't need to worry about walking around the fire as it "wasn't of us". It wasn't of our beliefs so there was no problem of walking anywhere. Seeing our cameras he said we could take all the pictures we want. The water was the gift that got the most interest. They had no well and to get water the woman walk over seven kilometers one way. Later we had them come to the truck and we drained our water tank filling all there buckets.
The woman cover there bodies in red clay and their hair is braided and caked with red clay. They all wanted us to take pictures of their hair so they could look at them on our camera screens as they had no way of seeing their own hair.
Our visit ended with all the woman singing and dancing in a circle. It was so surreal to realize that villages like this still exist.