Uis Ovahimba Long For Home And Milk

31 Jul 2016 19:20pm
By Paulus Shiku
UIS, 31 JUL (NAMPA) - Civilisation and globalisation is slowly trying to transform them but they strongly maintain their cultural ways of life in their animal hide garments, clay houses and language.
These are OvaHimba nomads of the Kunene Region.
A group of about 30 young OvaHimba now live in a small Himba village along the road to Khorixas from Uis in the Erongo Region.
They moved here from Opuwo in 2007 and now make a living off displaying their culture to tourists.
Kauotua Tjiharuka, 28, the leader of the group, set up the village after he received permission from the Daure-Daman Traditional Authority to do so.
“We do not have animals; that’s why we came here. A Himba with cattle will never be here living the way we do,” he said while sitting on a rock stirring a pot of porridge in the hot sun.
Apart from selling Himba-style bracelets, crafts, wooden chairs, walking sticks and small calabashes, they also charge tourists for taking pictures with them.
Many tourists are fascinated by the OvaHimba attire of mainly animal hide and pieces of cloth. Traditional OvaHimba men and women walk around bare-breasted, only covering their genitals and buttocks. They adorn themselves with self-made jewellery.
They do not bathe and instead smear their bodies with animal fat mixed with Otjize (Ochre).
While in conversation with Tjiharuka, there was a commotion among the rest of the clan who had just spotted a vehicle approaching their camp.
Their excitement was visible when they ran to the tourist car.
Business starts immediately as they negotiate how much should be paid for a picture or for the crafts.
“We charge as little as N.dollars 10 for one picture or N.dollars 200 maximum. Sometimes, we can make N.dollars 500 a day,” Tjiharuka told Nampa.
Coming from a herding culture where cultivating land is not viewed as means of survival, he admits life is not easy here. The money collected in a day is placed in a piggy bank to be used to buy food, mostly maize flour, meat and soft drinks.
But how do they survive in such an open area with no water, electricity or toilets?
Tjiharuka said they use the bush when nature calls. Food is cooked on an open fire, which is also used to warm during winter.
“We chose to live in the middle of nowhere so that we stay true to whom we are, but we still need water. People in Uis charge us more than N.dollars 20 for 25 litres of water,” he said.
Some people refuse them water if they do not have money.
“Politicians only come here during election time, after that they disappear. It would be good if they bring us food and water since they know we can vote,” Tjiharuka said.
Approached for comment, Daures Constituency Councillor Joram !Haoseb said the OvaHimbas were advised to live in Uis.
“We cannot give them drought food or water where they are because they are outside the constituency boundaries and they need to be registered for drought relief food,” said the councillor.
He also noted a concern that the mini village will grow.
This group also does not send their children to school because there is no money for school uniforms, supplies and hostel accommodation.
Tjiharuka’s 15-year-old son, Tjimai Musutua, said he has no intention to go to school. He could not explain why. His father also does not have a problem with him not going to school.
One of them who seem to care about school, Kandipoo Mbinge, 21, asked for her one-year-old son to be put through school.
She said this while holding her son on the hip and trying to understand a new mobile phone.
Although none of them went to school, they learned to write their names and some can say numbers in English.
Somewhere in the shade of a tree, Kapitire Tjizemo, 30, is making herself a skirt out of sheep hide while breastfeeding her son.
“I miss drinking milk and if I had cattle I will be back home (Opuwo) herding and drinking milk,” she said, while to the contrary asking for something to promote the group in the middle of nowhere.
Tjizemo said they need a signboard on the roadside to advertise their presence and products.
As sunset draws closer, parents prepare to walk about 2 kilometres to Uis to buy food, while the children remain behind to ‘watch’ the business.
So life continues in the world of the OvaHimba at Uis.