#16 Authentic Himba dances



Authentic Himba dances

This episode illustrates Himba dances. It is one of the few episodes, which doesn’t contain any narration. This is because there isn’t a lot to say. These dances shown are usually just performed by the children. The older children and/or the younger mothers manage or lead the dance. I have asked the wife of the headman why this dance is just performed by the children. She was laughing at me and pointed out that once a women has big breast it wouldn’t look appropriate. Therefore, if you look at the dances at the second part of the film, which are managed by the younger mothers, their movement is much more settled. Often a certain order is maintained within the group where the older kids are at one side and the younger kids at the other side. The way how Himba dress, the type of hair style and decoration follows some rules. For example, once a girl becomes a women they wear this little crown on top of their head. But not everything is decoration. The protection around the ankles should also prevent snake bites. It probably works for smaller snakes but quite a few people get killed due to the bite of a black mamba. A black mamba can erect the body up to two meter and it is also incredible fast.
Like many other African dances, these children dances follow a certain pattern. There is a very distinct melody, which is always repeated and accompanied by this clapping. Then one of the kids drop out of the group and performs a solo part. During these solo parts certain figures are performed and, depending on the song, sometimes for example the movement of certain animals are imitated. These recordings are a bit lengthy but I wanted to show some variations. Some anthropologist call these dances Otjongo – but that’s wrong. Otjongo is a dance between a group of men and women and has nothing to do with these popular children dances. Otjongo is shown in the next episode.