Hair Culture: The Himba People

The Himba people are part of the Bantu group of African nations (Namibia, Botswana and Angola).

They are probably one of the last true semi-nomadic tribes in Africa and migrate to waterholes from season to season.

The Himba people are known as the “most beautiful people in Africa” and for the Himba woman, despite the restrictions of a nomadic life, beauty is very important within this culture and their "look" is very distinctive. 

 

 

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himba lotion

The Himba people believe the colour red represents the earth and blood - the symbols of life - so it is also very desirable to have the appearance of red skin.

To achieve this look they must firstly produce a paste called "otjize" - a mixture of  fat, blood and red ochre, which is then rubbed on their bodies including hair,  at least twice a day.

This otjize mixture not only beautifies but also acts as a sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

Hair & its cultural significance

The Himba style of hair is very distinctive to just this sub-tribe and the way the hair is styled is also socially important:-

Pre-pubescent girls can only have up to two braids in their hair.

Young boys/single men can wear one braid style backwards from the crown.

young himba girls

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However, married women can wear many thick braids which can be decorated with a head dress or small hat.                                                           

himba man 

And once married, a Himba man has to keep their hair tied in the shape of a turban.

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