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Himba people | Himba women

Himba Song

Fascinated by Africa and its people, I have spent hundreds of hours photographing some of the continents most remote tribes.

On a recent photo safari to Serra Cafema, which lies on the border of Angola and Namibia, I was excited to take my guests to photograph a small Himba family resident in the area that I had previously had the privilege of visiting twice before. After we arrived at the village early in the afternoon, my guests and I spent time walking around and meeting the Himba people. As I had visited this particular village before, I didn’t capture any images when we first arrived, as I wanted to immerse myself in the culture and lives of the Himba people.

It is an experience like no other. We asked the Himba people about life. We spoke about the rain that is so precious to them. We were held in awe and fascination as they described their nomadic lifestyle.

We all share a bond; a bond of trust and living life, and a connection of surviving against the odds. This was a new experience for my guests, and one that you could see in their eyes that would not be forgotten.

One such tale that was told was about the oldest lady in the Himba tribe, known as ‘Krokodil’. She was named after the reptile, crocodile, which attacked her several years prior to my initial visit. The crocodile ripped her breast off while she was washing clothes in the Kunene River. Luckily for ‘Krokodil’, the nearby camp assisted her and flew her to a hospital several hundred kilometers away to get medical attention.

‘Krokodil’ survived the ordeal and has to date given birth and raised no less than 10 children in one of the harshest environments on earth.

As the light started to fade, we photographed the Himba family for some time before an incredible sound was heard coming from about a hundred meters from us. Without any prior notice, the small group of Himba people joyfully started to dance, spinning around and encouraging each other to participate.

It was surreal, and a moment I personally will never forget.

My guests and I slowly walked over to the dancing Himba women and stood there mesmerized by their voices and rhythm. After ensuring that my guests were happy and helping them capture the images they wanted from the scene in front of us, I knew that there was a particular series of image that I wanted to create.

I dialed my exposure up +2 stops to ensure I completely overexposed my background, dialed my shutter speed to 1/8th of a second to capture the movement. Slowly, I started creating image after image.

Having become weary from the singing and dancing, ‘Krokodil’s’ young boy moved off to sit close to the dancing Himba women. Immediately I envisioned the image that I knew I wanted to take. As he stared off into the distant mountains of Angola, the composition could not have been more perfect.

Behind the singing and dancing Himba women, “Krokodil” stood as erect and proud as ever as she smoked her pipe and carefully watched her people enjoying life in this barren wasteland.

Out of that moment, my image ‘Himba Song’ was born.

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