For the past 9 years I have been travelling down the gravel road towards Epupa in the North of Namibia. This area first attracted me as it is said to be the spiritual home of the Himba people. On my first journey to Epupa I never realised that trip would be repeated time and time again. Due to some interesting circumstances I was lead to one very special village. Whilst staying in this village one of the family’s children passed away. The whole situation was very confronting but it gave me a great insight into the Himba people and their culture. Spending time with these people during this period created a bond that only grows stronger with each visit. With the strengthening of this relationship I am able to build a stronger series of images that portrays these beautiful people in the proud and happy manner they are every day.
This is Kawnedape, She was in charge of the goats. each morning she would inspect the goats and see if they made it through the night. Each morning she would wrap the coldest goat in her arms and provide it with what little body warmth she could against the cold winter air.
 
First came the connections in the family. These grew slowly as did my images. I was happy to see their lives as they played out and help with chores. This always lead to being invited to give further assistance, this allowed me to break down barriers so when it came to take an image I knew what I wanted and how that person would react.
Weera lives in Angola and regularly travels to see his mother Hyakondombu in the village. Walking takes a lot of time and offers of a free ride are greatly accepted, so when he asked for a lift I asked for an image. The Himba are very giving people who will always reciprocate if any assistance is passed on their way. There is more to this story and why Weera was here at sundowner hill but it is a little sad and just another experience I shared with the Himba.
One afternoon I was resting by the women as they reapply the ochre to Tjimewemo's hair. The scene was rather bland but as they had been working on the hair for two days, Tjimewemo rolled over just as the light peered through the trees. It was a moment in time and one I was lucky to see due to the access I was provided. each year I spend a number of weeks in Epupa and in their village and this access has lead to some amazing images such as this.
Daily rituals are a large part of Himba culture. No other tribe clings so tightly to their daily rituals as the Himba. Regardless of how time consuming the ritual is, the women value their culture and the ancient ways of life passed down from generation to generation.
Mornings always offer the greatest light. The winters morning air is always a little cold so most villagers linger and cling to what warmth they can get. This morning Kawnedape did not want to leave her bed and tend to the goats. Moments after this image was taken she was repremanded for her tarty attitude towards her daily chores.
Tjatungwa was only a young girl when I first stepped into the village. She has grown through the years and it has been interesting to see her growth. This image was taken one morning after my arrival the day before. Each return trip I take a number of images from my last visit. Tjautungwa has a full timeline of images from me and this morning she wanted one more to add to that collection. She was over the moon and hevily pregnatnt when I gave her this image and took another to carry on this tradition.
Seeing the villagers grow and pass has been and interesting experience. It has allowed me to understand a lot that is not written down in history books. I can see these people grow and sadly a number pass but each visit brings new lessons and experiences and it is this curve that keeps drawing me back.
As the girls grow their place in the village changes. i have seen a number of girls grow. Tjatungwa passed on her goat duties to Kawnedape and now Kawnedape has passed these on Keipepi. Each girl knows the goats need to be tendered too and each winter morning the ritual carries on to see if all is well and to offer a little body warmth to and young kid that is feeling the pinch of the winters chill.
Each evening the women gather by their fires. It is a time to relax and catch up on the days activities. It is that time of day that I know I will get some amazing images of life as it happens and it is having this bond that allows the life to be captured just as it is.
Evenings are when life really shows itself. During the days there are always chores to be done but during dusk everyone will gather around their own fire. They will settle down and tend to their children before sitting back to enjoy the cooler temperatures of the night.
Tjimewemo is always the most open woman in the village and once you are sat by her side she will allow to to do as you please. Her fire always crackles and her pot is always there to share so it is for these reasons why I am always found not far from her side.
When the night grows too cold the Himba migrate to their huts. A small fire burns away to keep all warm and ensures that everyone can sleep in comfort.
The area around Epupa offers so much more than village life. I often find myself drawn to sunsets over the falls and when I am there I am never alone. My Bakkie (4x4) is known as a Himba taxi so there are always red stains on the seats and the roofs from the Himba's thick otjiz (body paste). With free lifts comes a little reciprication so I know I will alsways have a willing subject when the timing is right.
The view over the various gorges of Epupa Falls is savored by all. The Himba congregate here on a daily basis and seeing the falls beauty it is evident why. 
 
For more of my images and more on my stories please see www.benmcraephotography.com there is also information on how you could join me in Epupa on my next return visit.
Himba Days
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Himba Days

This is a small collection of images I have taken whilst visiting and staying with the Himba people of northern Namibia.
121
808
6
Published:

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