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Namibia: Himbas, struggle for survive

Documentary photo story posted on 3 February 2010 by Delmi Alvarez

Idealized by tourists, members of Namibia’s Himba tribe struggle to maintain control of their lives and their land. This beautiful African tribe is now threatened by ongoing projects from the government of Namibia and also by invasion of Western tourists who put in danger their identity. In 1980 the lifestyle of the Himba seemed about to finish when a drought wiped out 90% of them. In the village of Opuwo, living was even more difficult. Located close to the border with Angola, many Himba have been victims of kidnappings during the civil war in Angola.

The Himba are monotheistic, they belive in one God called Mukuru. Each family has its ancestral fire, which is kept alive by a fire-Keeper. The fire-Keeper every seven or eight days communicates with the ancestors on behalf of the family.

Himbas, struggle for survive is a Documentary film project and photoessay
Stay with several of the Himba tribes filming on the day for two weeks or three, depending on permission granted so far.
Realization: In our winter, spring on them at the time of drought and rainfall.

Stage of production: Contacts, instruments, permissions and locations of execution of works.

Local producer: Jimmy

Running Time: 00:50
Format: PAL

Aspect ratio: 16:9

Location: Opuwo, Kaokoland, Kunene River, Namibia-border angolen.

Year: 2009/10

Production Company: Delmi Alvarez + coproduccion possible.

There is now also schools where children learn English and Himba, and conservancies that give Himba control of Wildlife and Tourism on their lands. Vengapi Tijvinda, a grandmother in her 50s, lived through this rebirth. In the 1980 she was making baskets for tourists. Now she has started goat farming and is also raising cattle. She says that “Life is still the same, but the children can read and write. I am a member of [a] Conservancy, and we have tasted game meat again.” (from National Geographic Magazine).

Anthropologist David Crandall, who is an expert of Himba in Namibia, has recovered ancient dances of the tribes that are already disappearing along with the isolation that previously gave them security.

For the Himba, a visit to the regional main city of Opuwo is also an education on the uses of electricity. But with the advantages of having electricity comes new challenges, creating desire for electric goods such as a refrigerator to chill the beer. People who are thinking about cold beer, are no longer thinking about their cattle.

Concerns that the Himba society is being influenced by the temptations of western clothing and more severe alcohol and this driving fears among the largest of the tribes who say “we will not have another generation like us again” (Mutambo).  “We do not like the western clothing, we want to preserve our traditions. We want to be who we are. We are suffering. We are happy with us,” (Kapikas).

Aim, goal, mission of this project is get funds to set up a small place in Opuwo as ONG or other org managed by local young people. They need from help to have computers for workshops.

There are a few ONGs working in the area but is not enough.





“Himbas, struggle for survival” is a documentary film project and photoessay, staying with several of the Himba tribes filming on the day for two weeks or three, depending on permission granted so far.

Currently (Feb 2010) looking for partners and grants to follow.

It is the goal of this project to create a place in Opuwo where local young people can learn computers, and other skills to manage the tourism, as a progressive community. It will be managed locally by Jimmy  Elia Tolu, a concerned young person working with Himba people, wildlife and environment, .


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  1. very good documenting this part of the world….excellent!

  2. Great Photography and Subject ! Good going Delmi!! The Landscapes are gorgeous too.

  3. As usual in his works, Delmi Alvarez in his photographs reveals a reality not only well-defined and colored, artistically captured -people, surroundings and environments- but also in each frame he shows through for us the deep knowledge and sensitivity that Delmi gets from his themes and motifs. An almost perfect balance between artistic realism, social reflection and photographic technique. Ten points.

  4. Sorpresa, admiración e respeto, dende a ollada de Demi Álvarez,amosándonos a beleza màis abraiante dunha realidade inimaxinable para a maioría das mentes occidentais. Mil cores màis que no arco da vella màis completo, debuxa a natureza africana diante do teu lente. Tradicións e culturas ancestrais, que coa dignidade da súa diferencia, relativizan a fermosura dos nosos deseños màis modernos, e nos ensinan que a elegancia non precisa de pasarela. Agradécese o intercambio de olladas entre “os modelos fotografados”, o fotógrafo, e o admirado observador, incrédulo diante das imaxes. A Terra toda é dos homes e tódolos homes somos da terra; o amor, o respeto e o coidado co que debemos camiñar por ela amósasenos dende estas fotografías, cada cal màis fermosa, cheas de arte e maxia, son unha lección de humildade. Graciñas por saber mirar así e por compartillalo. Impresionante!!

  5. your photograph is just um icant explain but it awesome

    im sorry about my terrible english ;;

  6. It is a wonderful work:-)

  7. working for the end of Himba tribe, give them clothes and twitter

  8. all the ppl…wemon ,men ,children are so beautiful…a whole world that i may never see..but know exists…beautiful

  9. http;//;s you for good foto himbas angola and Namibia and to etiopia photos,mul bonitas son,vivo y quisiera viajar a estos lugures tan hermosos.

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