The Astonishing Vision And Focus Of Namibia’s Nomads

The Astonishing Vision And Focus Of Namibia’s Nomads.

This interesting BBC article comparing the Himba people’s visual focus and attention to those outside the Kunene valley in Namibia arose out of research by Jules Davidoff of Goldsmith’s University, London. Focus, attention, details, distractibility all seemed psychologically abstract, but not when one has to identify one’s own individual cattle daily, by their colour strips and patterns from the rest of the herd. The first settlements of the Himbas can be traced back to the early 16th century when they crossed the Angolan border and chose Kaokoland (nowadays called the Kunene region) as their new homeland. The red ochre cream that they are famous for is made by pounding the ochre stone (hematite) into small pieces, mixed with butter, and applied on the skin. The red ochre is used by women after they come of age and are able to independently look after themselves. Moreover, the red layer seems to help against the scorching sun radiation, while keeping the skin clean and moist, and to some extent blocking hair growth on the body. Porridge from maize flour is their main diet, and meat is only eaten on rare celebrative occasions. Himbas are animists and their supreme being is called Mukuru. The way they communicate with their God is through the holy fire in the middle of their tribal huts. Strangers are not permitted into this enclosure without an invitation.

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