Thursday, 2 January 2014

Lourika Reinders | The Himba

Photo © Lourika Reinders-All Rights Reserved

After a holiday hiatus, here is my first post for 2014, in which I chose to feature the African tribe of Himba.

The Himba are indigenous peoples of about 20,000 to 50,000 people mostly living in northern Namibia. Pastoralists and cattle breeders, the Himba wear little clothing, but the women are famous for covering themselves with otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre, possibly to protect themselves from the sun.The mixture gives their skins a reddish tinge.

Unfortunately, the Himba people have suffered a great deal over their history. Severe droughts and guerrilla warfare reduced their overall numbers, and in the early 1900s, they barely survived attempted genocide by German colonialists. Atrocities were committed for which the German government apologized in 2004, almost 100 years after the fact.

In the 1980s it appeared the Himba way of life was coming to a close. A severe drought killed 90% of their cattle, and many gave up their herds and became refugees in the town of Opuwo living in slums on international relief. Because they live on the Angolan border, many Himba were also kidnapping victims in the Angolan civil war.

Lourika Reinders was born and raised in Namibia, and studied in South Africa. She is the daughter of a successful safari guide and grew up bushwhacking the African wilderness. She made photography her career in January 2012, and is now concentrating on commercial photography work in Namibia.