The women of the Himba tribe dance to celebrate the onset of menstruation of a young Himba.
The Kunene River forms the border between Namibia and Angola. A very interesting pastoral tribe called the Himba live in this region, which is called Kaokoland. This village is called Opembe. The women build the houses and repair them when needed. The Himba also keep livestock and they’re masters in the art of human relations.
Nothing is more important to them than their animals, and beauty in that order.
Like most people, the Himba want to be beautiful. Young girls wear bracelets on their wrists and ankles until their first menstruation, or esuko in their language. The ohumba is the most valued personal adornment. They acquire them through trades with other tribes, such as the Zemba, Owambo and Herero.
But what they like best is to turn their own bodies into works of art. This includes elaborate hairstyles.
That’s why they take out their braids and re-braid their hair every other year.
They get their hair colouring by crushing iron-rich stones to produce a powder called ochre. Then they mix the ochre with butter fat to produce a reddish paste that they spread on their hair and bodies. In addition to its aesthetic qualities, this paste protects them from the sun and from insect bites.
What they don't do is bathe very frequently. To tell the truth, women bathe only once in their lives, on the day of their weddings.
A dance is being held to celebrate Komane's first menstruation. According to custom she can get married now, but to my eyes she's still a girl. Nevertheless, her parents will select her future husband.
Men may have several wives and married women may have other relationships with their husbands’ permission.