Opuo is found in the Kunene region, to the North of Namibia. It is home to the Himba and Herero tribes, communities that still hold on to their culture. My main driving force to visit Namibia was to actually see and interact with the Himba tribe/community found in Opuo. I love cultures and knowing that there was a community here that held on to their rich culture in modern Namibia, indeed appealed to me and I had to visit. What a joy to find out there was also the Herero community.
The Himba are indigenous to Namibia and are semi-nomadic in nature. They live in communities with the eldest male being the chief/elder. The ladies will normally colour their faces and hair red, the colour made from red ochre mixed with animal fat or oil which is called odjize. This is believed to protect them from insect bites, the heat from the sun, for beauty as well as keep them clean as water is scarce.
The intricate hairdos also convey different messages with the ladies braided hair with the bushy end being famous. This hairdo is only for ladies who have reached puberty and above and is created by adding goat hair or synthetic hair extensions to ones hair. It is then intricately applied odjize to keep it clean and looking smart, a task that takes several hours.
The married women once they give birth, then wear a head dress called Ekori, to indicate their status.
For young girls, their hair is braided in two lines called Ozondato while the sides are shaved. The lines are braided from back to front and fall over their faces. If the girls are twins, each is braided a single line also from back to front.
Due to their pastoral nature, their homes are made of twigs, mud, cowdung and thatch.
I had my first sighting of the Herero in Botswana and I am glad I got to interact with them greatly in Namibia. The ladies stand out from everyone due to their unique traditional dresses that look more European than African due to its Victorian look. I came to learn that they adapted this dressing that is locally referred to as Ohorokova from the Germans who colonized Namibia. The married ladies are expected to wear it daily even when at home and I think it is really beautiful.
The dress is long and flowing and consists of buttons at the top of the dress. It is worn with several petticoats to give it the “balloon” / Victorian effect and topped up with a shawl across the shoulders. To keep the shawl in place, it normally has a pin at the front. The final piece of this outfit is the headgear which is called otjikalva. It is made by wrapping a cloth around ones head from front to back and then it is pinned to fit accordingly. The front horizontal part is then created by rolling a newspaper severally or using a stiff horizontal item. The hat seemed to make me think of cow horns and is indeed a way of paying homage to their love for cattle. I was however unable to comprehend how the ladies survived the sweltering heat under all that cover-the price of beauty 🙂
This town is home to an out of this world item-honest. I was greatly intrigued when I heard that a meteorite is found hear. At first I thought it was a rumour but curiosity made us opt to go in search of it. I came face to face with the Hoba meteorite, which is the largest known meteorite ( as single piece), and the most massive naturally occurring piece of iron known on the earth surface. I can now officially claim to not only have seen it, but touched a former heavenly body. Now, I am looking for superman, anyone know where I can find him?
Etosha National Park
We arrived pretty late in the evening that the wardens warned us we would probably not get to see any of the animals. However, the animals decided to show off so as not to make our trip a waste. In under one hour, we had seen elephants, a white rhino, giraffes, zebras , antelopes ,gazelles and lions. Now that’s what I call an animal expose.
There is public transport from Windhoek to Opuo but none to the villages which are away from the town. We made friends with a local called Steve who thus took us to Opuo and its environs. Being a Namibian, he was able to act as a translator when we visited the villages and thus enabled us to learn so much more. Having a private vehicle also enabled us to traverse the region and beyond easily.
Opuo is indeed a beautiful area filled with lots of beauty and traditions. I really loved the chance to interact with the locals from the Himba and Herero tribes as well as discovering that the largest meteorite ever found is in Namibia. The wide array of animals also seen at Etosha National Park especially in such a short time indicates that it has lots more to offer. Thank you Opuo and Grootfontein for having me, I indeed satisfied my need for a cultural interaction and more. Thanks David for granting me permission to use some of your amazing pictures.