Culture clash; life in a tribe

One of the young men spoke English. He was to be our guide while we visited the Himba village. Since it is hard to visit an authentic Himba village, we settled for the tourist version of it. These people genuinely live here, but they are used to visitors, questions, and showing their rituals.

The first thing was learning how to greet them: “Moro. Perivi. Mauah.” “Hello. How are you? Good.” You said all of this at once, without waiting for a response to your question. Men can be sent to school when they’re 13. Women always stay at home. A Himba man has several wives and doesn’t have a standard house. He could be moving from village to village. This is why we mostly saw women and children in the camp. They had the most amazing hairdo’s and necklaces.

Women sitting in the shade

Women sitting in the shade

The women immediately wanted to know how old we all were. They were surprised that most of us hadn’t married yet or had no kids. It brought out a lot of giggles. The women also danced for us. While the kids clapped to make a rhythm, the women danced, one person in the middle. We also saw how the Himbas wash themselves. Let’s just say I have totally different hygienic standards. Basically washing consists of sitting in a hut with a jar of smoke. The smoke is what you wash yourself and your clothes with. Funny, I usually throw my clothes into the washing machine after I’ve been in a smoky room.

That night I stayed on the campsite close to the village. There were open air toilets and showers without doors. As I stood in the shower I kept alternating looking at the sky and looking at the ground. I loved seeing the sky while taking a shower, but at the same time I was well aware that a scorpion or snake could easily come to disturb my peace. Luckily I only had to share my shower with a centipede.

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