Photographer Captures Life in the Ancient Himba Tribe through One of Namibia’s Worst Droughts, Where Women and Children Live in Isolation While the Men are Forced to Travel Long Distances to Water their Herds

Photographer Stu McKenzie shot a selection of remarkable images which show how the tribe is coping whilst Namibia suffers one of the worst droughts in living memory

A photographer has taken incredible pictures of the ancient Himba tribe as they live through one of the worst droughts in Namibia’s history.

Stu McKenzie spent a week with the indigenous tribe shooting a selection of remarkable images to illustrate how the tribe is coping with the water shortage.

Mr McKenzie said: ‘When I visited there were no men present, only women and children.

‘The men were about 40 miles away looking after the herds and they were expected to be there for months.

‘This isn’t the norm for the Himba, but Namibia is suffering a drought and this has caused the Himba to move their herds even further from the villages in search of water and food.’

The Himba people live in north-west Namibia in the remote Kunene region and are herders who live a traditional way of life.

The tribe has a population of around 50,000 and there is very little westernisation, with the men, women and children wearing traditional clothes and jewellery.

Traditionally, women wear simple leather loin clothes and do not wash themselves, choosing to use aromatic plants and resins instead.

From puberty Himba women braid their hair and veneer each one with clay and red ochre.

They also use the same mixture, called Otjize, to paint their bodies red every morning.

Otjize is made using butterfat, ochre and herbs. Due to the scarcity of water, the indigenous tribe developed the special substance to cleanse their skin and protect them from the sun.

The tribe believe in a god called ‘Mukuru’ whom they speak to by lighting a flame called ‘Okuruwo’, or holy fire, which they believe must remain lit at all times as it represents the villagers’ ancestors.

Mr McKenzie added: ‘What struck me about the Himba was how funny they were, they have a great sense of humour.

‘I’ve lived with reindeer herders in the Arctic and Eagle hunters in Mongolia and all these tribes have similarities, they are very tight knit communities, very loving and caring towards their children and are extremely resilient.

‘I’m fascinated by tribes all over the world and I hope that my photography can highlight what they are going through, whether that is drought, climate change or modernity.’

The isolated tribe continues to resist the encroaching tourism industry – despite drawing fascination from travellers around the world.

The Himba tribe is protected from overexposure by strict government-imposed guidelines on visiting their communities.

They appeared in the controversial Channel 4 TV show The British Tribe Next Door when reality TV star Scarlett Moffatt and her family lived within the community earlier this year.

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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Milly Vincent