False Travel Namibia 25 ALL PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGESn1 In the tranquil darkness of her family hut, a young Himba bride is lovingly prepared by her mother for marriage. Her skin and hair are smeared with a mixture of ochre, aromatic herbs and butterfat, and she is adorned with an array of jewellery made from beaten iron beads. Her mother gives her a ceremonial headdress called ekori. With the front coil of her ekori rolled forward as she leaves her parental home, the bride can only see straight ahead, and is thus protected from the emotions of leaving her family. Made from the finest hide and passed down from generation to generation, the ekori is traditionally worn by brides on their journeys to their new homes, and kept on for the first month of married life.
False Portfolio 26 Travel Namibia n3 Always the centre of attention, Himba babies from Namibia are never left on their own and are carried everywhere in a hide back- sling, or on the hip of their mother or caretaker. The pastoral Himba regard their offspring as a great blessing, and even a cattle- rich man is not considered truly wealthy until he has many children and grandchildren. n2 Parading around a family compound in a snakelike formation, a group of Himba women, headed by the wife of the chief and including the mothers of the betrothed and the bride, approach each bystander in turn, asking for blessings and a small gift for the couple. Gifts are usually money, tobacco or ochre. If onlookers have nothing to give, they place a stick or twig into the receiving hand as a gesture of goodwill. 2 3