#14 Himba shower and cosmetic



How Himba make fire

This episode is about traditional fire making and Himba cosmetic. What the headman is now showing to us becomes probably very soon a forgotten cultural technique – I mean the traditional art to make fire. This because many Himba have nowadays access to small stores or markets where matches are sold. So matches become readily available and are widely used. The traditional technique is therefore only employed if matches aren’t available – or at very remote locations within the stony desert.
Here, where the bush land starts and where you find even small trees, you have a certain amount of rain – at least during the rainy season. And this is turned out to be problem because it rained during night quite heavily and it is impossible to find dry stick.
In order to make fire you need start with a dry stick, into which you cut a hole and a small access channel. If you don’t have a knife or something sharp you would need to use a stick with a little mold. Beside the stick Himba use dried dung. Then, you place another stick into the hole – together, with some dried dung powder. If you rub these sticks together, heat is created which finally sets the dung on fire. As I said, due to the rain everything was wet and we therefore haven’t had fire. Himba also use stones to create fire. But due to the recent rain they also wouldn’t work.
The living arrangement by the Himba is similar like the once by the Herero. The houses or cabins are arranged around the holy fire and the crawl. But there are some items, which are only used by the Himba. For example a distinct head dress or curtain, which is utilized only by the women during the wedding ceremony or if the family creates a big party.

Himba cosmetic

There are many different flasks and baskets, which are used for the milk. The residual fat from the goat milk is for example used by the Himba women for their dally body care. The headman’s daughter shows us how they create a particular body lotion. This body lotion is used instead of a shower. So Himba women don’t shower- but they don’t smell – because of this lotion they use.
Firstly, a red powder is created from the oak stone, which is finally mixed with the fat from the goat milk. Modern Himba women use petro jelly instead of the goat milks fat. But this cost money. If you like to make Himba women a present you probably buy them some petro jelly – which you can get at every store close to these Himba villages.
Despite the hygienic aspect, this lotion seems to be quite useful as protection against the sun and mosquitoes – some Herero women, which live close to the Himba use this lotion as well – normally just on their face. Some Himba men also use this lotion – but just a tiny bit. This intense red colorization of the body is something what only Himba women do.