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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.