The Himba (singular: Omuhimba, plural: Ovahimba) are an ethnic group of about 20,000 to 50,000 people living in northern Namibia, in the Kunene region (formerly Kaokoland). Recently they have built two villages in Kamanjab which have become tourist destinations. They are mostly a semi-nomadic, pastoral people, closely related to the Herero, and speak Otjihimba, a dialect of the Herero language.
The Himba breed cattle and goats. The responsibility for milking the cows lies with the women. Women take care of the children, and one woman will take care of another woman's children. Women tend to perform more labor-intensive work than men do, such as carrying water to the village and building homes. Men handle the political tasks and legal trials.
Members of an extended family typically dwell in a homestead, "a small, circular hamlet of huts and work shelters" that surrounds "an okuruwo (ancestral fire) and a central livestock enclosure." Both the fire and the livestock are closely tied to their belief in ancestor worship, the fire representing ancestral protection and the livestock allowing "proper relations between human and ancestor."
The Himba wear little clothing, but the women are famous for covering themselves with otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre, possibly to protect themselves from the sun. The mixture gives their skins a reddish tinge. This symbolizes earth's rich red color and the blood that symbolizes life, and is consistent with the Himba ideal of beauty. Women braid each other's hair that they extend with plastic hair that they usually have to purchase, and cover it except the ends, in their ochre mixture.