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Ovahimba; the Namibian Tribe Where Husband Gives His Wife to Guest to Spend the Night

The peoples of the Ovahimba and Ovazimba tribes in the Kunene and Omusati regions of northern Namibia have a defended culture that has challenged western influence and agitation.

With a population of more than 50,000, women engage in daily milking, caring for children and other important tasks while men go hunting, sometimes for a long time.

The wealth of these nomads is determined by the number of cattle they have. A polygamous people, Himba girls are married to male partners selected by their father once they reach puberty.

You can not ignore the red skin they have. The red color on their skin is called otjize paste (a combination of butter fat, omuzumba scrub and ocher) and its function is to protect their skin from the sun and insect bites.

They are also guided by the belief that the red color means “earth and blood”. Rather than taking a bath, women take a bath of smoke and apply aromatic resins on their skin.

Honour is relative

Give the honour to whom it is due : This saying is applied differently in this tribe. When a visitor or stranger comes knocking, a man shows his approval and pleasure to see his guest by giving him Okujepisa Omukazendu treatment.

This practice literally means that his wife or adult daughter is given to his guest to spend the night while the husband sleeps in another room. In case there is no room available, her husband will sleep outside.

This transmitted tradition has its “advantages” in the community: it reduces jealousy and promotes relationships. The woman has little or no opinion in decision making.

Submitting to her husband’s requests come first. She has the option of refusing to sleep with him but must sleep in the same room as the guest. More and more European tourists are visiting this Namibian community for pleasure .

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