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On her recent trip to Namibia, Africa regional manager Katie Fewkes spent time with two very different tribes — the Himba and San People — and learned about their traditions.

Himba settlement, Serra Cafema, Namib Desert
Himba settlement, Serra Cafema, Namib Desert

Grandmother's smile

Himba grandmotherVisiting a remote San People tribe near Grootfontein was one of the highlights of my trip. I went on a bush walk learning about the medicinal uses of plants and how to and water in the middle of the desert. Back at the village, the San elder showed me how to make fire and taught me to make a bow and arrow, followed by my humiliatingly failed attempts to shoot the arrow at a target! One of the ladies in the village was instantly welcoming with her warm smile, and wonderfully wrinkled skin. She sat telling stories about her children and grandchildren, and seemed to genuinely enjoy learning about my family too.

Sisterly affection

Himba people, NamibiaDuring my visit with a Himba clan, I chatted with this family. The mother was busy cooking up a kind of porridge on the fire (seen from the smoke in the background) but the eldest sister was keen to see a photo with her younger siblings on my digital SLR. The men of this village were away grazing their goat herds, so I only met the women and children. As is typical of many African villages, regardless of tribe, the mothers and grandmothers spend much of their me tending crops, looking after livestock and cooking food for their families. The result is that the eldest siblings often assume responsibility for looking after their younger sisters and brothers, keeping them safe while their parents are busy.

Young Himba boy

Himba boyI had been to Namibia before, but my previous adventures only showed me the wildlife and landscapes of this spectacular country. So when I had the chance to spend an afternoon in a Himba village, I was delighted. My guide helped translate the many questions that the Himba had for me, and in return I asked to learn more about their traditions. This boy had his hair split into two braids, meaning both of his parents were still living. I really liked his quiet confidence that came through in this portrait as he glanced at me sideways with a slight air of suspicion.

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