The unmarried men of the Ovahimba all wear their hair in a single plait extending down the back of the head, with the rest of the head shaved. This is called an ondatu and indicates their status in society, in which they are designated the role of herding cattle (something they take great pride in). There remains a strong affinity for tradition and culture in the Ovahimba community. The portraits thus depict conscious reflection on cultural and personal identity in a rapidly modernizing, globalized world.
The Himba breed cattle and goats. The responsibility for milking the cows lies with the women. Women take care of the children, and one woman will take care of another woman’s children. Women tend to perform more labor-intensive work than men do, such as carrying water to the village and building homes. Members of an extended family typically dwell in a homestead, “a small, circular hamlet of huts and work shelters” that surrounds “an okuruwo (ancestral fire) and a central livestock enclosure.” Both the fire and the livestock are closely tied to their belief in ancestor worship, the fire representing ancestral protection and the livestock allowing “proper relations between human and ancestor. The breasts are nonsexual, but the buttocks are always carefully covered. - Matt Porteous
The Himba women are famous for their coating their bodies and hair with a red paste called otjize.
In Himba culture there is a close tie between marriage and hairstyles.
As children, girls wear two plaits called ozondato, unless they are one of a set of twins.
Once reaching puberty, they are ready to wear their famous red locks of hair.
To create this elaborate hairstyle, their hair must be lengthened by weaving hay, goat hair, or Indian hair extensions. Then the hair is coated with a mixture of clay and red ochre, an earth pigment.
It is important that the the hair is not groomed back, so to let the hair act as a veil, hiding the face from unwanted male attention.
After marriage, the hair can be groomed away revealing the face.
Boys and men wear only a single plait throughout their lives as bachelors. It is when they are finally married that a head-covering is placed. The head-covering is to only be taken off in the even of a death, and/or being windowed. After a death, the men shave their heads.
In the unfortunate event that a man is widowed, his hair returns to being uncovered.
Nnedi Okorafor’s work gives you everything you crave stylistically about Fantasy and Sci Fi, but incorporates ideas so unprecedented they could easily outshine the characters and the plot. But my favorite thing about each tale I’ve read from this author is that she doesn’t ever allow that to happen-the characters and the action shine just as brightly, if not more so, than the innovative concepts that turn the wheels of the plot.
Binti is relatively short, but it’s a very intense story that reads like the best parts of a novel that another author might have stretched out with filler and awkward descriptions. You won’t find any of that here; there is no respite from the tension that will carry you all the way through to its conclusion without a pause to catch your breath. By which I mean, this is a breathtaking story.
Binti is a uniquely talented young person from the Himba people, who are sticklers for tradition and not overly fond of outsiders. Despite this, Binti’s love for mathematics and the magic she can work with numbers and formulas has driven her to apply to Oomza University, the most prestigious academic institution in the known universe. Although she is the first of the Himba people to be accepted, her family and community are less than thrilled and forbid her to go.
Binti is of course undeterred by their disapproval, and begins her journey armed only with her talent, a jar of the cleansing clay her people rub into their hair and skin, and a strange artifact from her homeland, whose secrets have yet to reveal themselves. She faces a great deal of judgement from those who consider her people provincial, isolationist, and backwards, but she remains fast in her goal to attend the prestigious university where she will be able to achieve her dreams and maybe even unlock the mystery of her artifact-and then, of course, something unforeseeably terrible happens.
Do yourself a favor and read this novella. Coming of age has never been quite this weird.
Before They Pass Away is a long-term project by photographer Jimmy Nelson, designed to give us the unique opportunity to discover more than 30 secluded and slowly vanishing tribes from all over the world. According to Nelson, his mission was to assure that the world never forgets how things used to be: “Most importantly, I wanted to create an ambitious aesthetic photographic document that would stand the test of time. A body of work that would be an irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world.
The Kazakhs are the descendants of Turkic, Mongolic and Indo-Iranian tribes and Huns that populated the territory between Siberia and the Black Sea. They are a semi-nomadic people and have roamed the mountains and valleys of western Mongolia with their herds since the 19th century.
The Himba are an ancient tribe of tall, slender and statuesque herders. Since the 16th century they have lived in scattered settlements, leading a life that has remained unchanged, surviving war and droughts. The tribal structure helps them live in one of the most extreme environments on earth.
It is believed that the first Papua New Guineans migrated to the island over 45000 years ago. Today, over 3 million people, half of the heterogeneous population, live in the highlands. Some of these communities have engaged in low-scale tribal conflict with their neighbors for millennia.
A number of different tribes have lived scattered across the highland plateau for 1000 years, in small agrarian clans, isolated by the harsh terrain and divided by language, custom and tradition. The legendary Asaro Mudmen first met with the Western world in the middle of the 20th century.
The eastern half of New Guinea gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. Traditionally, the different tribes scattered across the highland plateau, live in small agrarian clans.
The indigenous population of the world’s second largest island is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. The harsh terrain and historic inter-tribal warfare has lead to village isolation and the proliferation of distinct languages. A number of different tribes are scattered across the highland plateau.
The ancient Arctic Chukchi live on the peninsula of the Chukotka. Unlike other native groups of Siberia, they have never been conquered by Russian troops. Their environment and traditional culture endured destruction under Soviet rule, by weapons testing and pollution.
The long and intriguing story of the origin of the indigenous Maori people can be traced back to the 13th century, the mythical homeland Hawaiki, Eastern Polynesia. Due to centuries of isolation, the Maori established a distinct society with characteristic art, a separate language and unique mythology.
The former kingdom of Lo is linked by religion, culture and history to Tibet, but is politically part of Nepal. Now Tibetan culture is in danger of disappearing, it stands alone as one of the last truly Tibetan cultures existing today. Until 1991 no outsiders were allowed to enter Mustang.
Nomadic and colorful horsemen and cowboys have wandered the prairies as early as the 1700s, when wild Cimarron cattle overpopulated the flatlands. In the 18th century, when leather was in high demand, Gauchos arose to clandestinely hunt the huge herds of horses and cattle.